A Tribute to Lady's Secret

April 19, 2015 05:06am
Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup 615 X 400
Photo: Breeders' Cup photo

It is said that God gave man dominion over all animals. In a sense, one might say that animals were meant to, entertain, inspire, thrill and enlighten us. In this way, Lady’s Secret gave us more than her fair share. Often criticized for his inability to reproduce himself, Secretariat may have found atonement in the birth of his daughter out of the Icecapade mare, Great Lady M.

Maybe Secretariat had saved his best for the Lady.

Lady's Secret was foaled on Robert Spreen’s Lucas Farm in the spring of the year 1982. Spreen sold her to Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Klein. Klein was a founding partner of the Seattle SuperSonics and owner of the San Diego Chargers.

As a two-year-old Lady’s Secret won her first race, a maiden special weight at Belmont Park. She was also victorious in the Wavy Waves and Moccasin Stakes that year.

As a three-year-old, the sleek gray filly earned her nickname, The Iron Lady, running a mind boggling seventeen times. Lady’s Secret was triumphant in ten of those starts.

Eight of those victories came in succession, beginning with Bowl of Flowers Stakes at Belmont Park on May, 26 and ending with a score in the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes, at that course, on October 13 of the same year.

Lady’s Secret had that streak interrupted in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race in which she finished second to stablemate Life’s Magic.

That victory earned Life’s Magic the title of America's Top Older Female Horse of that year.

As a four-year-old, the Lady took her game to another level, challenging the sport's top male rivals on several occasions. Since 1948 (when Gallerette did it) no filly had bested males in the Whitney Handicap, one of Saratoga’s premier stakes, Lady’s Secret did.

Without any rest, Lady’s Secret ran another fifteen times in 1986 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, winning another ten of her starts cumulating with a victory in the 1986 edition of the Breeders’s Cup Distaff.

In the racing world, 1986 was the year of the Lady. Not only was she voted Top Older Female Horse that year, but Lady’s Secret also took America's Horse Of The Year Award. She is one of only a few fillies ever to receive that honor, and the only foal of Secretariat ever to attain the Award.

In all, the Lady won eight graded stakes that year, the most won by any horse since races obtained graded status in 1973.

With forty races behind her, Lady’s Secret entered 1987 off of a very short rest and again she met the boys in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream. Finishing sixth in that race, she won two more allowance races prior to being eased in a similar start at Saratoga.

Mr & Mrs. Klein had paid $200,000 to Robert Spreen for Lady’s Secret and with her final earnings upward of 3 million dollars you could say they got their money's worth. Therefore, you might think the connections would call it good after the five lackluster efforts the Lady had produced in 1987.

To the contrary, an article published in the New York Times stated; “Lady's Secret, who refused to finish the first race at Saratoga Race Course Monday as the 3-10 favorite, will be kept in training instead of being sent home, her handlers confirmed today.

In fact, Lukas was on record as stating;We'll find out what's wrong with her mentally,'' he said. ''There's nothing wrong with her physically that we can find.'' Moreover, plans were to point her for the John A. Morris Handicap on Aug. 30, then the Maskette Mile, the Ruffian Handicap, the Beldame Stakes, and the Breeders' Cup Distaff that fall.

However, and for whatever reason, this was not to be, and once the Lady’s racing career ended a new life as a broodmare was soon to follow.

Described as the Star entry in Fasig-Tipton’s “Night of the Stars” sale in November, Lady’s Secret’s final bid reached $5.4 but failed to meet the $5.7 reserve the Kleins and Fasig-Tipton had set on her sale. She was later sold privately to Issam Fares for $3.8 million and was bred in the spring of 1988 to Alydar. Nine years later John and Kim Glenney of Georgetown, Ky, paid a much discounted $750,000 for her while in foal to Seattle Slew.

Much like her Sire, Lady’s Secret failed to reproduce herself. However, she was a terrific mother and she produced fourteen foals. In fact, Lady’s Secret paid her connections the ultimate sacrifice by dying during the birthing process of her final foal, a colt named Cool Valley Cowboy (2003) by General Meeting.

At the time of her death, the Lady had taken up residence at Valley Creek Farm in California under the care of ranch manager Leigh Ann Howard.

"She was a lovely mare," recalled Howard. "She wasn't pushy. She wanted to get along with everybody. Everyone always loved to come see her and feed her mints."

Subsequently, Valley Creek Ranch was purchased by Shirley Ann Kimball, who in turn renamed the farm to Oak Tree Farm in reference to the white oak under which Lady’s Secret was laid to rest.

Shirley can also be credited with landscaping and cultivating a garden dedicated to the memory of Lady’s Secret. This Memorial Garden is a peaceful, quiet, and serene memorial fitting for a Champion that never saw a moment rest in her life of while bringing pleasure to her vast amount of human admirers.

However, this serenity is at risk of being disturbed as Oak Tree Ranch has fallen on hard times due to unpaid debts left by clients. On that note, a Fundraiser was set up to help avert a foreclosure. However, this Fundraiser was met some skepticism and it has struggled to get off the ground.

In addition, another fan and myself, have created a For Lady’s Secret group on Facebook. I invite all who remember this terrific horse to join that group or make donations to the Fundraiser.

It has been mentioned that Lady’s Secret's remains should be dug up and moved to a place like Old Friends in Kentucky. In response, I and others feel that the site in California is sacred ground and where Lady’s Secret remains should RIP and remain forever undisturbed.

This Memorial is unique to Lady’s Secret and anything else would tarnish that uniqueness of her resting place. On that note, plans are in place to make the garden a historical landmark and in the meantime items will be available for sale at the For Lady’s Secret Facebook site to help the Fundraiser. In addition, other plans included holding a raffle with Lady’s Secret Memorabilia and several other neat items being put up for grabs.

Lady’s Secret entertained, inspired, thrilled and enlightened me; and I would hope she did the same for people everywhere. These are the links where you can help out.

Lady's Secret Facebook Group

Lady's Secret Memorial Fundraiser

I bid thee farewell my sweet love
All the staggering moments we both shared
All the joy we both brought to one another's heart
All the great things we did for one another

I bid thee farewell my sweet love
All the laughter we shared together
All the memories we created together
All the pleasures we did for one another

I bid thee farewell my sweet love
It was good while it lasted
O, I do miss it, all those moments
I am only left with memories, which I shall forever cherish

I bid thee farewell my sweet love
Now that it is all over, all I can do is bid thee farewell
As I must set you free, free to be happy
I bid thee farewell - My Sweet Love


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Meet Fred Tunks

More than just a fan, Fred brings a lifetime of experience in horse racing into his articles. His titles in the industry have ranged from groom and gallop person, to assistant trainer, trainer, and owner-breeder. Fred's experiences in racing have brought good times and great memories which he hopes to share with you. Seeking to assume a new role in the sport, Fred is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Communications at Ashford University. He writes and does his classes through an online platform from his home in western Colorado. His primary objective is to pass along the knowledge, associated with his years of working at the track, to the readers. His primary interests include pedigree research and industry related news, as well as the history of racing in North America. Through HRN, Fred’s plans are to develop meaningful relationships with the audience while buildin his portfolio as a turf writer. His motto is, 'keep your horses in the worst possible company and keep yourself with the best', and that is why he has chosen to bring you his ‘Tales’ here at Horse Racing Nation. Follow Fred on Twitter @coloracefan and let all your bets be winners!  

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