The Canadian racing entity Woodbine Entertainment has won a major accolade for a short film. The Eclipse Awards, created in 1971 to honour champions of the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing, are selected by The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB).
Woodbine Entertainment won in the feature television programming category with Secretariat, The Last Race, a retrospective of the last race of the 1973 Triple Crown winner’s career which took place at the Canadian International Championship Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. The film was created in honour of the 50th anniversary of “Big Red’s” final race, which he won on the turf on October 28, 1973, and aired on Oct. 8, 2023, on TSN (The Sports Network) during the 2023 running of the Canadian International.
Interviews in the short include Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Maple who rode Secretariat in the race. “When I found out I was to get the mount on Secretariat, I could not believe it. I’m going to ride the greatest horse that ever looked through a bridle,” he says. The film uses archival footage of the fiery chestnut as he is led down the ramp of the airplane to a rock star reception among throngs of press and fans alike. The historic footage also shows the great horses’ workout in a misty track, which added to the mystique of the moment. And of course, that final home stretch run, with Secretariat far out in front of the pack as fans climbed the fence and ran across the main track to get close to the star of the show as he pounded to victory on the turf.
Secretariat, who graced the covers of multiple magazines when he was actively racing, including TIME and Sports Illustrated, still holds all of his Triple Crown records. As Jim Bannon, a sportswriter who covered racing at the time says at the end of the film, “Records are there to be broken, but images are hard to break, and his image was just brilliant.”