Dense and unusually large example of ‘race-worn’ chestnut hair removed from the mane of legendary Thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat on October 29, 1973, one day after the three-year-old stallion capped off his career with a first-place finish at the Canadian International Stakes at the Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario. The circle of hair, which roughly measures 3½″ in diameter, was hand removed by Ray DeStefano of Murty Brothers Horse Transportation, after he loaded the horse onto a van bound for Belmont Park, Secretariat’s brief residency before retiring to Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. The hard plastic case the hair is presented in is original to its three-year-long exhibition at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (NMRHOF), where it was displayed as part of the Ride On! exhibit from May 2006 until December 2009. Most other examples of Secretariat hair were obtained when he was much older and in retirement at Claiborne Farm.
Accompanied by sundry paperwork related to DeStefano's loaning of the hair to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, as well as by a signed letter of provenance from DeStefano, who writes: “In the summer of 1973, I was working for Murty Brothers Horse Transportation accompanying horses by plane, domestically and internationally, to various tracks, stables, and farms across the globe. Included among the horses the Murty Brothers were hired to transport was the great Secretariat, who, in May and June of that year, won the elusive Triple Crown. Following Secretariat’s last race on October 28, 1973, he was scheduled to fly back to his barn at Belmont Park the next day for a few weeks before shipping to his retirement as a stallion at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.
Secretariat arrived on a charter airplane at JFK airport. The aircraft came to a rest, we prepared to open the door to his stall on the airplane, and I went back down to the van to await him. Led by Eddie Sweat, with Ron Cirovalo holding his tail to steady him against the decline, he regally walked down the ramp. When Secretariat got to the door of the van, I took him and backed him into his stall.
As would frequently be performed by the horse groom, with my fingers I carefully combed through the hair on the mane of Secretariat. Realizing the importance of my moment with the three-year-old Triple Crown winner, I retained the handful of hair and placed it in a box where it remained for 33 years. In 2006, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga asked me for permission to display Secretariat’s hair. I agreed, and from May 2006 until the end of December 2009, that was where the hair was exhibited. Given that Secretariat was still a three-year-old and had recently run his last race, I attest that this sample is actual ‘race worn hair’ from his record-setting three-year career."
While snippets of Secretariat hair have been offered at auction in the past, those examples were produced from an older Secretariat, a horse removed from the racetrack and long settled in retirement at Claiborne Farm. This incredibly rare ‘racing hair’ derives from his history-making three-year-old Triple Crown career, and is supported by steadfast written and visual provenance. A remarkably dense ring of Secretariat hair that was ‘along for the ride.’
TDN Letter to the Editor regarding Raymond DeStefano
Imaged below is the article "A Dedicated Racetracker" in Past the Wire written by Jonathan Stettin at www.PastTheWire.com.
Click here to read, "Memories, Big Red, and Two Kids from Brooklyn" by Steve Haskin.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.