Big Red

A 1968 quarter flipped heads over tails through the air and was snagged in its descent by the massive hand of a New York stockbroker, Ogden Phipps. He shut his fingers tight around the coin and thrust a clenched fist towards the octogenarian across from him. With eyebrows raised and slightly quivering in anticipation, he looked his partner in the eyes.

“Call it ...”

Christopher Chenery pulled his hands from his pockets and folded them across his chest. It really wasn’t that big of a decision, but with 50 years of breeding horses behind him, he still felt he had some part to play in the deal. He stared at the hairy knuckles on the outstretched hand for a moment and cracked his tongue against his teeth.

“Heads,” he said from out of the side of his mouth.

Ogden smiled and at last let out a long whistling breath. He slowly rotated his closed hand so it was finger-side up. With a suddenness that made Christopher blink, Ogden snapped his fingers open to reveal the coin.

In a moment where the concept of “winner” would be turned on its head, Ogden Phipps of Wheatley Stable was given the first choice of the offspring of the champion thoroughbred Bold Ruler.

The next year, Christopher fell ill. It would be his daughter Penny that would make the “loser’s” choice and welcome into her Meadow Stables a hungry chestnut colt with a star on its forehead and a sock missing from its front leg. The rest is history.


When Secretariat was autopsied on October 4th, 1989, the veterinarian was shocked to find that the horse with the biggest heart in the history of racing literally had the biggest heart in the history of racing, twenty-one pounds, more than twice the average size.

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