Year Inducted: 2011
Lady’s Secret was a gray filly registered by The Jockey Club as an Oklahoma-bred. However, she was a lady and a secret in name only.
Without question, she was the greatest racehorse born to arguably the greatest racehorse ever. A daughter of the legendary Secretariat, Lady’s Secret obviously didn’t get her color from ‘Big Red,’ but she definitely got his class and the ability to dominate her competition. She received the gray coat, and plenty of class too, from her mother Great Lady M, who was campaigned by Robert Spreen, Sr. and trainer D. Wayne Lukas. After her racing career, Great Lady M was bred to Secretariat in Kentucky and was subsequently purchased by Oklahoman Mel Hatley, and Lukas.
It was at Mel Hatley Farms, near the large water tower on the west side of Norman, Oklahoma, where the ‘Iron Lady’ was born. Lady’s Secret was then raised on the grains and winds of the Oklahoma plains.
As a yearling, Lady’s Secret was sold to the professional sports & horse racing tycoon Gene Klein. Lady’s Secret would carry the popular colors of Mr. & Mrs. Eugene V. Klein that included the famed charger lightning bolt, derived from the same blue and yellow colors of the San Diego Chargers – the NFL football team Klein owned.
Lady’s Secret evolved into a remarkable race mare, rising to the iconic atmosphere of both her pedigree and her connections. In May of 1984 she made her debut as an easy, winning favorite at Belmont Park. Her first stakes win came three starts later at Hollywood Park. Remarkably, her next 37 races would all be stakes events.
As a 3-year-old, Lady’s Secret made 17 starts, winning 10 of them. She then stamped her excellence in her 4-year-old campaign, winning another 10 races – eight of them carrying Grade 1 status, the highest level of racing in North America.
The ‘Iron Lady’ took on all-comers. At age three she defeated older fillies and mares. At age four, she periodically faced top male competition, including her win in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga where she defeated her rivals of the other sex by over four lengths.
Lady’s Secret put an exclamation on a tremendous 1986 by concluding with wins in four consecutive Grade 1 races, topped by her comfortable finale in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Lady’s Secret’s treasured combination of both speed and stamina was not overlooked by those assigning the sport’s top awards. She was voted the 1986 Champion Older Mare as well as the most prestigious honor in racing, Horse of the Year.
Lady’s Secret made five starts as a 5-year-old in 1987, winning two, before retiring to broodmare status. Unfortunately, she never produced a runner that came close to her outstanding success. She passed away in 2003 at the age of 21.
The all-time money-earning female at the time her career on the track closed with $3,021,325, Lady’s Secret won 25 of her 45 lifetime attempts, while placing nine times and finishing third in three other races. In 1992, she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.