(AP) A bronze monument honoring legendary racehorse Secretariat was put in place in a Lexington, Kentucky traffic circle this week.
The larger-than-life-size work, titled Racing into History, was completed at a Norman foundry by longtime Tulsa NatureWorks Art Show artist Jocelyn Russell.
After leaving Norman on a trailer, the monument stopped off at Jim Glover auto locations in Tulsa and Owasso. Glover is providing the transportation for the monument to Lexington, where was unveiled and dedicated Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
Nancy and Ken Sutter were among several onlookers at the Tulsa dealership. The longtime NatureWorks patrons said they’ve kept up with Russell’s progress on the work via Facebook and were thrilled to finally see it in person.
“It’s amazing, just phenomenal,” Ken Sutter said of the monument, which captures the record-setting 1973 Triple Crown winner at full gallop, with jockey Ron Turcotte on his back.
“We’ve followed Jocelyn and her work for years,” Nancy Sutter said, adding that they are purchasing a maquette of the 13-foot-tall statue.
The Sutters remember the real Secretariat well. The horse’s performances inspired a nation that was sorely in need of some encouragement, Nancy said.
“It was the time of Watergate and Vietnam,” she said. “Everyone watched those races, even if you didn’t know anything about horse-racing.”
Russell, an award-winning wildlife sculptor based in Washington state, is the artist behind three of the NatureWorks monuments on display around Tulsa, including of an elk, a group of wolves and one featuring a bobcat and pheasant.
She began the current project in June 2018 and is accompanied the monument to Lexington.
As she studied Secretariat’s anatomy – the “powerhouse” physique and “beautiful” face – the task in front of her seemed all the more daunting, Russell said, recalling the project’s early stages.
“He was so absolutely perfect in almost every way,” she said.
Thankfully, she added, she had a lot of help and input. The planning process included interviews with people close to the late horse, including Turcotte, former handlers and late owner Penny Chenery’s family, as well as visits to stables where he was born and trained.
Meeting and talking to Turcotte, the jockey who rode the horse to his Triple Crown wins, was a highlight, Russell said.
“Hearing about the horse through his eyes was amazing,” she said. “He brought so much life to the project.”
The monument was created at the Crucible Foundry in Norman. The foundry is able to accommodate projects of this scale, Russell said. She previously used it for five life size elephants she created for the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
“He’s the most historically notable figure I’ve done,” Russell said. “This is a horse that graced the cover of magazines.”
KIMT anchor George Mallet adopted Secretariat's grandson from the racetrack and chronicled the story for Blood Horse magazine. Here is a link to that article which contains video of Big Red's grandson.