LEXINGTON, Ky (FOX 56) – Secretariat captivated the sport of horse racing winning the Triple Crown in 1973, becoming one of the greatest horses that ever lived. However, just like Secretariat, all thoroughbreds races on the track end.
“The shelf life of a thoroughbred racehorse is not necessarily long, but their lifespan can be closer to 25, so ensuring their golden years is kind of our goal,” said Secretariat Center Executive Director Shelley Mann.
The Secretariat Center has been a home for thousands of former racehorses since 2004 helping them transition into life after racing.
15-year-old, Photo Shoot, is one of 12 horses at the center figuring out what’s next for him.
“I’ve worked with Pic, and he’s super sweet,” said volunteer, Gerri Helms. “He will let you get really close to him and I don’t ever have to tie him up to groom him. He’s a really good horse to get along with.”
“Photo Shoot loves having a job,” Mann said. “He’s done a little bit of everything, fox hunting, jumping and he’s the type of horse that loves challenges.”
He’s a horse that has the skills of a true champion. Photo Shoot started 47 races and claimed seven wins including a win at Keeneland in 2011. He’s also the half-brother of Classic Causeway who’s in the field for Kentucky Derby 148, but even a winner like Photo Shoot needs help finding his way.
“The sky is the limit for him,” Mann said. “For a horse that has raced 47 times, he is unbelievably sound. He definitely wants a job and he is the boss in his field, but he just requires someone that is patient and kind.”
For years, horses live a structured lifestyle while they’re racing, so the center teaches them that it’s okay to wander off and eat some grass for an afternoon.
“People don’t realize how good this is for them and how good it makes them feel,” Helms said.
“Pretty much whatever the horse decides they want to enjoy we find them a home that will explore those opportunities with those horses,” Mann said.
“Its hard because we fall in love with them,” Equine Program Director Amanda Weismann said. “It’s great when we find them a home and see them make that connection, but most importantly, it gives them a chance to realize that people are not just there to make them do a job. We’re there to be friends with them and love on them.”
There can only be one Secretariat, but horses like Photo Shoot will continue to use this place to run their second race.