The film Secretariat, based on the life of the horse who made ESPN's top 100 athletes of the century list (at #35), came out this weekend. I haven't seen it yet, but I'd very much like to. Slate has a great article discussing why people are able to get so wrapped up in Secretariat's story. Why do we--even today, almost almost forty years after the events took place--love the big, lazy, champion? Unlike Seabiscuit, who was tiny and always the racing underdog against the big-boys, Secretariat was always the champion. He was like the guys on my swim team in high school who would skip practice for days on end but still win their events at the meets. You couldn't help but be impressed by their athleticism.
I first learned about Secretariat from my dad's old business partner, who used to come to our house every day to work. She'd leave Lemonheads for my brother and me and would also leave the scent of perfume wafting about our house, since she would pet the cat all day and transfer all the smell to her. She also loved horse racing. One day, she brought a huge coffee table book about Secretariat to our house. I gobbled it up and then went on to tell anyone who would listen the story of the horse. Go figure, most third graders didn't particularly care about how he won the Belmont by over 30 lengths or how his heart was twice as big as a normal thoroughbred's. Whatever. I thought it was cool.