RB: What do you think it was about Secretariat that won over America? Obviously he was incredibly skilled, but three magazine covers in one week is a no small thing.
DL: I think that he personified—if you can say that about a horse—a purity and a simplicity and an expression of joy. At the time, we were so parched for anything that felt as good as that. We had such negativism and cynicism. We had a glass ceiling for women. Roe v. Wade hadn't come to pass yet. Watergate, Vietnam War. It was just such a turning point.
I grew up listening to so many diverse points of view about America and our destiny and our fate and our ethics. We killed some our greatest leaders of all time in those years.
With Secretariat, it was like the world could stop and smell a rose for a moment. America actually exported something nice. I was only 8, but I was in Europe with a theater company when those covers came out, and it took awhile back then to get a magazine overseas, so he'd already won the Triple Crown by the time we were looking at all the hoopla leading up to it. And I took it very personally. I felt like: "Well, of course it makes sense that a horse is finally getting on the cover of all these global publications because humans are finally getting it. Horses are the greatest thing ever." You know, with my childlike innocence and love of horses.
RB: I'm sure it was nice to have something that wasn't divisive.
DL: Precisely. There was no agenda. There was no affiliation. There was no us versus them. When Secretariat decided to just pitilessly own the history books forever with his run at the third race of the triple crown, Jack Nicklaus wept. People were crying. Secretariat is number 35 in the all-time record of greatest athletes, and the only nonhuman in there, because it was such an expression of heart. If you go on YouTube and watch him run right now, it's a little postage stamp of a thing, all black-and-white and fuzzy, but you can see why this movie was begging to be made. And the backstory is just as interesting as the races are. It's really a beautiful thing to behold.
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