It is not difficult to drive through Laurel, Maryland, and never know that it was once the site of races where thundering thoroughbreds ran at top speeds in search of victory. In fact, thousands of people do each day, on their way from Baltimore to Washington, DC, or vice versa. But there was a time, not that long ago, when champions ran at the now largely disused Laurel Race Course, when four-footed athletes raced for a prize that would go not to themselves but to their two-footed owners. They ran for the shear love of running and, hopefully, with a certain internal satisfaction at winning. One of the horses that once ran in Laurel, and other similar tracks across the country, was the legendary Secretariat. Unlike other previous heroes like Seabiscuit, Secretariat's fame is based not on the way in which he overcame long odds against him but in the way that he and his trainers made the very most of the advantages he had from birth. Won by his owner in a lucky draw, he was cherished even before he was born and spent the first year of his life happily trotting around the green fields of a Virginia farm.
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