Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank You Song, Safari & Shave Ice

Click on this photo and you tell me... can a horse really laugh???

I'm not up on the latest music, but I just discovered a band called 100 Monkeys and this is my favorite song of theirs:
"The Thank You Song" isn't on any of their CDs. They only perform it at live shows and it's different each time: a jazzy riff on what they're thankful for. Something we should all be singing when we start the day.

On Tuesday, Sept 28th, LA had the hottest day ever on record... 113! I don't mind heat, but everyone around me is wilting. Except at our showroom.. where the books live in Air Conditioned comfort!

In the Los Angeles area & need a break from the sweltering temps?? Stop by our showroom for the air condition and some shopping... then drive less than a mile North from us on Western Ave to King's Hawaiian's fast food restaurant, "the Local Place" for an authentic Hawaiian Shave Ice! If you haven't had a real Shave Ice, you're in for a treat! Check out their website:

If you're stuck in the Valley... it's a great time to see the "Art of Animals" exhibit at Forest Lawn Glendale. See August posts for more details.. and lots of art at free museum w/ AC!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Celebrating Secretariat (updated OCT 10, 2011 with more images & info; updated 11.26.19 w/ Turcotte quote; updated 4.23))

Welcome world! Since this post first hit the blog in Sept 2010, it has become the most-viewed entry on the blog.

Now it's one year later...... Oct 2011. I've been keeping track via "Stats" for the blog. 80+ countries have visited "Behind the Scenes at Stuart Ng Books" and many of them come via links to this post. As a tribute to "Big Red" and all this interest in him, I have revised the post to include more images of him from books in my private library. I'm including info on all the books and encourage you to seek them out for yourself.

Here's the Secretariat Breyer Horse (this one's from my collection)...

He's featured in "Breyer Animal Colllector's Guide" by Felicia Browell, published by Collector Books, 1998.
This source shows six different versions of "Big Red"...
Here's the Secretariat model (with a different color) as the model for Queen Elizabeth's favorite horse, "Burmese"

There was a version of the model released with a racing background and blanket of roses:

For more horse posts here on the blog, please also check out my "Horse Show" posts; you'll find them every year in Sept. for the annual charity horse show near us. You might also enjoy the Oct 21 2010 post, "POV shot Secretariat & the Black Stallion." Also the Sept 21 2011 post on pony artist Norman Thelwell and the Dec 6 2011 post on artist CW Anderson. For more on this blog and our bookstore, see the post "Your Guide to Behind the Scenes at Stuart Ng Books." I update the "Guide" post frequently; you'll find it on the home page for the blog.
Breyer models are easy to get at toy stores, tack store and on line. They are great reference for artists because they are accurate and since you can turn them you can practice drawing horses from lots of different angles. See more models at
The most recent Breyer model Secretariat has him in an action pose:

What does Secretariat have to do with Stuart Ng Books? There's a long partnership between art & horses. From cave paintings, through all the great eras of art history, to modern works as well as our niche of illustration, animation & comic art; the horse has been an inspiration and a challenge for artists. I'm always encouraging our artist patrons to visit the horse events here in the south bay to do sketches and life drawings. Secretariat is an ideal model... a great story and lots of photo reference and film on him. And he's a personal favorite of mine :)

Below You Tube clip of a charming TV news story featuring home movie footage of family that visited Claiborne farm. They didn't have an appointment, but they got to see Secretariat enjoying a quiet graze at the end of his lead rope. He even posed with the kids! This footage was shot in Oct 1989, 3 days before Big Red died. Hard to believe it's been over 20 years....The footage at the end of the clip of him galloping in his paddock was added on by the TV news producers. That close to the end, Red couldn't run like that due to his hoof problem... but isn't it glorious to remember him that way.


And below is profile of Big Red's triumph at the Belmont. You 'll see the race, and hear from all the major players (Secretariat's feat speaks for him:). This is from the outstanding ESPN "Sports Century" documentary on Secretariat:

For another You Tube clip.. this one with interviews with Eddie Sweat, George Davis, Lucien Laurin and more of the Big Red team use this link:

Keep scrolling down this post for info and images from the books.... and at the end you'll find the original Sept 26 2010 post "Something Different - Secretariat" with a link to the official Secretariat website.

Meanwhile, enjoy these reviews from my own private library....

"Secretariat's Medow: The Land; The Family; The Legend" by Kate Chenery Tweedy & Leeanne Ladin. Foreward by Penny Chenery. Dementi Milestone Publishing, 2010. This is my FAVORITE book in my Secretariat library... and YOU can get one too as it's new and in print. Learn more about this book at

Here's the cover:

And this fab triptych of Big Red, Riva Ridge, and Ms. Penny at age 8!
Here's Secretariat's Mom, the lovely Somethingroyal...
And here are baby pics....

There's a wonderful section on the Grooms at the Meadows... more on this soon!
and this fab caricature of the Meadow team... drawn by PEB(Pierre E. Bellocq) for The Daily Racing Form.
Here's Red w/ the triple crown trophies....
and on the cover of TIME:

Fun to compare this recent book (above)... with many vintage titles from my library....

from "Secretariat" by Raymond G. Woolfe Jr. (photographer for The Daily Racing Form). Published by Chilton Book Company, 1974. Here's the cover:

Interior photos: Big Red with Penny Chenery..
Click to enlarge and see Penny Chenery w/ Lucien Laurin in the stands for Derby win...
Rivals Secretariat & Sham
Great color pics of Big Red with his Behind the Scenes crew. Groom Eddie Sweat & Exercise Rider (I think it's George Davis up...) Jimmy Gaffney was another exercise rider for the Big Red Team.

at age 2 yrs, Big Red was as large as most 3 year old colts...
Here he is serene w/ Eddie..
And on his plane ride to retirement... saying goodbye to jockey Ron Turcotte...
and Eddie...
Eddie rode all the way on the plane with Big Red...
From "Champions" by Michael Magee & photos by Pat Bayes. Published by William Morrow & Co. 1980. Fab photo gallery of 1970s & 80s era horses...Here's the cover w/ Alleged.
Big Red full on stallion in retirement. From the text w/ this pic: "He still loves attention and .... he gets a great deal of it. Of all the stallions standing in Kentucky, Secretariat is the one that people from all over the world come to see. He never disappoints...when he moves at high speed in the paddock, his magnificent career if brought vividly to mind."

"Right from the Horse's Mouth" by John Devaney & Howard Liss is "the lives & races of America's Great Thoroughbreds as Told in their own Words" Published by Crown, 1987.
Here's Big Red in full stride...
These are 2 little gems:"The Secretariat Factor" by Thomas Keirnan (Doubleday, 1979) is a time capsule of the beginning of Big Red's breeding career; "The Triple Crown Winners: the Story of America's Nine Superstar Race Horses" by Suzanne Wilding and Anthony Del Balso (Parents Magazine Press, 1979) is history of the Triple Crown (up to Secretariat in 1973).
From "Factor"... pics of fillies from Big Red's first crop. Of course, he never reproduced himself, but in time he became an important sire of broodmares (go girls!).
From "Triple Crown Winners" here's a charming image of Big Red with his trainer Lucien Laurin.
These last two books are by the famous horse artist, Richard Stone Reeves.
"Royal Blood: Fifty Years of Classic Thoroughbreds" was published with a slipcase by The Blood Horse (racing magazine) in 1994. Here's the cover of the slipcase, with portrait of Ruffian....
the intro by the artist also features the Ruffian pic along w/ photo of Reeves:
Interior section on Big Red has this pic of him w/ Eddie...
And here's the portrait of Big Red also with Eddie Sweat inside the book.... the original is in a private collection....
Here's the subject himself with the artist at Claiborne Farm in 1987.
Final book for this updated post is also art by Richard Stone Reeves. "Legends: the Art of Richard Stone Reeves as told to Edward L. Bowen" Oxmoor House, 1989 (the year Big Red died). The cover painting is titled "Affirmed Beating Alydar in the 1978 Belmont Stakes", but the horse you see the most of in the painting is Alydar.... who lost the Triple Crown to his rival, but went the distance in retirement as a breeding stallion and the sire of many champions (before he met a tragic end.... but that's another story.....)
Here's a oft reproduced photo of Big Red entering the race track....
Inside "Legends" is Reeve's painting based on this photo reference...
Also this portrait of Big Red....
and this reflective moment of him in pasture at retirement....
On the backflap of the dust jacket is this final image of artist and subject in 1989....

Below is the original text and pictures of the post "Something Different - Secretariat" which I wrote in Sept 2010, in anticipation of the Disney movie opening Oct 8th of that year.
Here's a little diversion.... "Secretariat." The film opens Oct 8th and the count down is on. I can't wait to see this!!!!...
If you aren't familiar with "Big Red"... he was the 1973 Triple Crown winner who was on the cover of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated (also later featured on a cheesy collector plate and less-cheesy Breyer statue)

This photo (below) from the "Secretariat" by Raymond G. Woofle Jr. documents the last gathering of the whole "Big Red" team: trainer Lucien Laurin; breeder-owner Penny Chenery; groom Eddie Sweat, Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte. The event was "Farewell to Secretariat Day" at Aqueduct racetrack, Tuesday November 6, 1973.

Here's a link to the "Secretariat" movie preview posted on You Tube:

Even better.. Secretariat has his own website:

Great images for sketching!!! Once a year... starting the first Saturday in May...I'm a sports buff for the duration of the Triple Crown races. If you ask me, Secretariat is a real sports hero....Gifted, Gracious, Gorgeous, Untarnished (rare even in racing).... and missed!! We all need more champions like this (especially horse racing). Here's hoping we get to see another one someday soon.

UPDATE Nov 2019

Facebook page "Secretariat's Meadow" shared this quote from jockey Ron Turcotte:

Facebook follower: How would you describe Secretariat’s temperament? #TurcotteTuesday 🏇
Ron Turcotte: What some people call his temperament, I call his disposition. Secretariat had the most even and kind disposition of any horse I ever knew. He was even tempered and always ready to respond to whatever move you asked of him. He was bold without being aggressive. He was a very calm horse. He could be playful at times but always ready to respond to you. I’ll always remember the time he gave a playful buck because he was feeling so good and so full of energy coming back from a workout. I wasn’t expecting it, and I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I landed on my feet on the ground. He could have taken off but instead he just stood there and looked at me as if he was saying, “Hey, what are you doing down there?” He just waited for me to walk back to him. I passed the reins back over his head, padded him a little on the neck, grabbed a handful of mane and jumped back on. He just kept going calmly back to the barn as if nothing had happened. Maybe the most important aspect of his temperament or disposition is that he never sulked or refused to try in a race. He was always ready to respond to whatever move you asked. He was always ready to give you everything he had.
UPDATE April 2023
2023 marks 50 years since Secretariat's Triple Crown win! Breyer issued this commemorate model, which sold out of its initial run:

Below is the monumental sculpture by Jocelyn Russell of Secretariat. It is the largest of the 5 different statue tributes to the champion:  2 at the Kentucky Horse Park; 1 in Belmont, NY and 1 at the Natl Museum of Racing

Photographer Patricia McQueen has spent the last several years photographing the surivivng offspring of Secretariat. She produces an annual fundraising calendar featuring her awesome photos. And this year released a stunning book