By Ralphine Major
The packet of information I requested arrived in the mail. Maps and brochures included in it were our link to the Bluegrass State. There was no internet in the seventies. My brother, Wayne, had just graduated from high school, and I was in college. We did not go on family vacations. Our father had become disabled with heart disease when we were very young, and finances were tight. No overnight lodging would be necessary for our one-day trip to Kentucky, so expenses would be minimal.
Even as a small child, Wayne always liked horses. Growing up on a dairy farm instilled in us a love for animals, especially horses. Trigger was the first horse he would have liked to see; but, Trigger lived on the west coast making it impossible for us to travel there. Two years earlier, Secretariat won the Triple Crown and Wayne wanted to see this amazing horse. The Triple Crown consists of three important races, one of which is the Kentucky Derby. Seldom does a horse win all three. To this day, our family has never been to a horse race, though I recall a college professor once told my class that it was written in his contract to be off from work the first weekend in May. At that time, there were only three television stations to provide coverage of the sport. There were no cable channels then.
It took two trips to see this incredible animal. On the first trip we learned that visits need to be scheduled in advance during certain hours. We grew more anxious for the second trip. It was truly scenic! Beautiful rolling farm lands framed with stone or brown wooden fencing stretched for miles. We visited two or three farms, but Claiborne Farm was our desired destination. That is where Secretariat was stabled. Finally, we saw him standing in the stall before us. What a thrill to see this magnificent horse that had shown such strength and endurance during his racing career.
I had not yet upgraded to a 35-mm camera, and the image captured on my inexpensive camera has become dim and grainy over the 42 years since it was taken. But, it is so clear to Wayne. He is standing outside the stall door looking at the Triple Crown Winner, Secretariat—one of the greatest horses of all time!