Home sweet home: Racehorse Secretariat’s granddaughter welcomed at refuge

CHERRYFIELD — One of the last living granddaughters of Secretariat, the champion American thoroughbred that held the American Triple Crown’s fastest time in all three races, is due to take up residence before Christmas at Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary. The nonprofit organization is a licensed shelter providing a “forever” home for farm and companion animals.

Go Go Lark, a 22-year-old, papered mare that was rescued at the 11th hour from a slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania in 2015, was scheduled this week to be transported by equine specialists from a boarding facility in Illinois to Cherryfield. At Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary, co-founders Jenny and Mathew Nichols have agreed to assume the horse’s long-term care from her former owners who no longer can afford the expense. Go Go Lark joins a Vietnamese pig, chickens and other horses that live there on a permanent basis. The Nicholses previously have stepped forward and spared other horses from similar circumstances.

The subject of books and the 2010 Disney movie, starring actress Diane Lane, Secretariat won the Triple Crown and the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. His times in all three Triple Crown races remain the fastest in history. The famous racehorse’s owner was a woman named Penny Chenery.

Also called “Big Red,” Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970. As a colt, he was awkward, chubby and seemed best at eating, sleeping and acting the clown. But by age 2, he stood at approximately 16.2 hands and weighed 1,175 pounds. He had a kind of princely quality about him and was once called “The horse that God built.” Beyond his explosive acceleration and lofty bearing, the racehorse had some traits that quickly gained him national fame.

“He [Secretariat] walked with style, stood tall and displayed the best manners,” Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary’s Executive Director Jenny Nichols recalls. “To the eye, he was perfection itself and when he performed it was a breathtaking sight.”

Secretariat, Nichols says, was known for being kind-hearted. but he also had a big heart in the literal sense. When the racehorse died at the age of 19, an autopsy revealed that his heart was huge — some two and a half times larger than those who ran behind him.

A granddaughter of Secretariat, Go Go Lark started out her racing career at age 2 at a prestigious horse farm. Failing to meet winning expectations, she eventually was sold and little is known about her exact whereabouts over the years. She is known to have had at least one foal that she was extremely protective of. In 2015, she wound up at an auction house and was purchased by a kill buyer. Only 24 hours before she was to go to a slaughterhouse, the horse was spared and has lived at the Illinois boarding facility for the past six years.

Go Go Lark’s odyssey and narrow escape from being slaughtered, Nichols notes, is not uncommon in the horse racing industry.

“Sadly, horse athletes such as these, and so many others, are often looked at as racing engines that once broken are simply dumped or quietly disposed of,” Nichols laments. “Tragically, many once prized and touted horses are never heard of again — lost somewhere in the pipeline.”

Jenny and Mathew Nichols have launched a fundraising drive to raise at least $5,000 to cover the cost of Go Go Lark’s transport and ongoing care at the sanctuary. To contribute online, go to Checks also can be mailed directly to: CCFS, 471 Milbridge Road, Cherryfield, ME 04622.

For more info, call 598-1565, email [email protected] and visit

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