In September, 2012, I had the great priviledge of attending the Secretariat Festival in Paris, KY. It was unforgettable as I had the opportunity to chat with Penny Chenery (now in her 90th year) who remembered my book about Sham and told me "it was such a lovely book." I also toured Claiborne Farm where Sequoia lived and Sham was born. I photographed the long flowing drive in from the breathtaking entrance, beautifully manicured pastures, a broodmare barn high on a hill,the breeding shed where both Sham and Secretariat were conceived, the stallion barn where Bold Ruler and Secretariat resided, and a burial site behind the front office where Princequillo, Bold Ruler and Secretariat rest. Truly a wonderful experience! Mary.
(The following photos are copyrighted and available for purchase through this site. Please contact me through the Sham Contact Page.)
Thanks to everyone for their fantastic fan mail. It is my pleasure to share your enthusiasm for my book about Sham below. Mary
Sham Fan Mail:
I attended the 1973 Kentucky Derby. I bet on Sham. I really liked him!
Your book is GREAT! I was having a hard time putting it down. I read Secretariat (actually studied it) because as I read I had to look up pedigrees to see who was who! Your book gave some information on Secretariat that I did not get in the Secretariat book so it has been truly great reading. Secretariat is in your book a lot, BUT different and new information, different than the Nack book. Your point of what a great horse Sham was gets across when you list the prior and after race times of the horses that LOST to Sham! I also didn't realize what a threat Linda's Chief was to Sham and did not know he (LC) would have such a fate as Ruffian! Well, I couldn't wait to get home from work to read the final chapters on Belmont. It took me 20 minutes to move (reflect) after a very powerful ending. Viola's comments were invaluable. I am so glad you included a page on her thoughts. I am glad he was born even if it was "the wrong place in time."
Spring Hill, FL
I loved your book Sham in The Shadow of a Superhorse. I never knew anything about Sham. I have fallen in love with him. I went to Kentucky this past June and I saw Sham's grave. He was truly a champion in his own right.
(Shari - Thank you for finding out about this great champion!)
Now that Secretariat's Preakness time has been settled at 1:53 flat, this means Sham's time is settled at 1:53 2/5s, the second fastest Preakness time. Only Curlin, and two others have equaled it. Sham now has run the second fastest Derby time and the second fastest Preakness time, in terms of fifths both equaled (Sham's Derby time was actually better than Monarcos) but not broken. Time has confirmed Sham's greatness.
San Antonio, TX
(Russ - Like you I am once again impressed with Sham's brilliance - another record - confirmed 39 years after the fact. All Sham-lovers knew he had what it takes to win the Crown and this is just one more reason to write about this horse. Sham was simply an amazing equine! Mary)
First I like to express I do not approve of using animals for human entertainment. I like to take the time to express what I "regain" of myself and like to share. I learned from Sham and Secretariat that they are both CHAMPIONS; in spirit and performance, absolutely MAGNIFICENT. It is only our human JUDGMENT that one is a WINNER and the other is the loser. That distinction between "WINNER" and "CHAMPION": A winner is you beat someone else but that someone else may be "inferior". A CHAMPION IS THE BEST THAT HE CAN BE!!! AND Sham is a CHAMPION JUST LIKE SECRETARIAT. And when each of us do the same, be the best we can be, then we ALL ARE CHAMPIONS IN LIVING AND WINNERS IN LIFE.
(Georgie - your message rings loud and clear and I'm sure many feel the way you do. Mary)
I have watched the movie Secretariat so many times. It happens to be a favorite of my husband. From the very first time I saw it I was also amazed with Sham. If they had only been a year apart, there would have been two years with triple crown winners. I have also done some online research to find out that Mr. Martin was not the man portrayed in the film. I am very glad for that. He should be very very proud of what his horse did too.
South Amboy, NJ
- Always great to hear of another new fan for Sham! Mary)
Always a fan of Sham. Took my then 5 yr old daughter to Spendthrift to see him. She loved the gentle big black stallion with the huge black mane & tail. Even then she understood how special he was. Thanks Sham for the memories.
(Sharon - You and your daughter were fortunate to have seen him at stud. Thanks for letting us hear about your experience. Mary)
Loved your book - I lived the Sham-Secretariat era as a young teen. You would be interested in seeing my retired hunt horse - we raced her and then she had a second, third and fourth career as a point-to-point mount, hunt horse and trail horse. I have ridden her several times this year at age 26. She is by Riva Ridge out of a Sham mare and is tough as nails, but generous and kind. I know much of this is the Sham influence. She's one of a kind and I have an even greater appreciation for her after reading your well researched and enjoyable story. Maybe you'd like to write a story on another unsung hero - Riva Ridge?
(Stephanie - Thanks for your interest in my book about Sham, and in telling about Sham's offspring. Sounds like another great horse with "grandsire Sham" running through her veins. Mary)
I wanted to let you know I just finished your book. Outstanding!! I also was a fan of Sham, such a brave colt. I have a Thoroughbred broodmare that will soon be bred to a grandson of Sham. On the top side of my mare's pedigree is Secretariat and Seattle Slew. If the foal never even races, just think of the genetic history the foal will carry. Of course a great race colt would be the icing on the cake. Thanks again for your book.
(Sue - Glad you enjoyed the book, and good luck with your foal project. Sounds like the makings of a champion! Mary)
I have just finished reading your book on "Sham" and it was sensational! I loved it! I had read EVERYTHING on Secretariat, and now I know "the rest of the story." What a great horse, and a touching story. I read the last 2 chapters with tears streaming down my cheeks. And your Secretariat passages were quite enjoyable too, as these 2 horses are inexorably linked. Thank you for such a great story. It is a permanent trophy on my bookcase.
(Richard - Thanks for your wonderful review and heartfelt interest in Sham. Glad my book left such a lasting impression. Makes the years of getting it on paper so worth while! Mary)
Would love to read the book. I found something intriguing about this horse from the start. He was a magnificent thoroughbred who never got his due respect.
Grand Island, NE
Finished your book and really enjoyed it. Helped me understand what was happening in the movie "Secretariat." Being a "non-horse" person, it got me up to speed on who's who, what's what and when and where.
Greenwood Village, CO
(John - Once you get horses in your blood, you're hooked! Glad you enjoyed it. Mary)
I always thought Sham's handlers lost their focus on advancing Sham's racing career in the quest of chasing Big Red's butt. After reading the two books out on sham, my opinion has not changed one bit. I've always felt one of the hallmarks of a great trainer is entering their horses in those races best suited to their horse to win. Sheryll Ward, Forego's trainer refused to enter forego in another race with the Big Red One after the KD. He knew he had a great horse with a promising racing future and wasn't going to risk the possibility of Forego breaking down chasing after Big Red. mrs. Sommer, by all accounts, felt the same way about Sham. too bad no one listened to her. Sham had tremendous ability as a racehorse but his racing record doesn't really reflect that. In contrast, forego won 3 Eclipse Awards, had an impressive racing record, and earned his position in thoroughbred racing history as a great champion. Couldn't that have been Sham?
(Edna - I think many feel the same way you do. Mary)
I recently saw the movie "Secretariat" and realized Sham may have been the Triple Crown winner of 1973 if Secretariat had not been racing that year. I set out to find more about Sham and discovered that yes, someone else was captivated with the beautiful bay who bravely raced against the "super horse". I have just started to read your book and love the writing. I am also thankful Sham has been immortalized through this wonderful book. He is one of the greatest race horses of all time.
(Jackie - Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate your taking the time to write in. Mary)
Can't wait to get your book. I followed the races in 1973. Sham was my fav! I was devasted when he lost the Derby. For an 11-year old girl who dreamed of being a jockey, and horses, it broke my heart. I went in the back yard and cried and my mom thought I was crazy. I have not seen the new Secretariat movie because I am afraid I'll cry again. One saving note...I saw on a "making of" program that when they filmed the Derby race for the movie that Sham actually won on the first take. Of course they didn't use that for the movie! Way to go plucky Sham! We knew you could do it, or at least hoped that you could and believed in ya!
(Dana - Thanks for being such a great "Sham" fan. Mary)
God love you, Sham. You were a horse with a great heart.
Park Forest, IL
Thank you for a great book. I am sorry that you could not get an interview with Pancho or Pincay. It could have made this book exceptional. I saw Sham in morning workouts in Santa Anita and I saw the Santa Catalina too. If you are in the theater and hear somebody yell GO SHAM GO, in the Derby scene, It's me.
(Damian - I'll be cheering with you. Mary)
I love reading everything about those days of 1973 racing. I remember watching the Triple Crown that year just like I do every year and of course 1973 for me was the most exciting race year I can ever remember because of Secretariat. What I have learned since then is the courageous efforts made by Sham, to read about knocking his front teeth out during one of the races and still finish second to Secretariat can only be done by a horse with pure heart. Although he may not have gotten the recognition that he should have you know of course that he is the only horse that ever came close to Secretariat, he ran side by side with the greatest for a while and I am proud for him for that. I plan to order any books about him to keep in my library, it also keeps me rememberiong my youth because I was only 19 years old in 1973, and I love remembering exactly where I was during the final race of the Triple Crown, the place where I was no longer exists for me now, myu parents have since died and the old homeplace is now someone else's home. Thanks you for the memories. Love all those horses, they are all winners to me.
Do you have films of Sham's races before the triple crown? I'd like to see Sham race, thanks.
(Sharon - watch Sham race on YouTube, he's great! Also, read his racing charts in the American Racing Manual. Mary)
I am a large fan of the ill-fated Bay colt and so I, too, wish to bring Sham out of the shadows. I loved your book and it inspired me to start work again on a project I had begun over a year ago. I put a section of a video tribute I am doing for the son of Pretense up on YouTube. Here is the link.
North Attleboro, MA
(Thanks Edward - it is so wonderful to watch Sham in action in your video. Mary)
Thanks for your wonderful effort Mary. I would like to purchase a book.
(Merritt: Your timing is perfect as I now offer signed and dated copies at my Online Bookstore. Mary)
I am so delighted to find you have written a book about Sham. I have recently acquired one of Sham's sons: name - Shams Favorite, 6 yrs. old, off the track in NJ. I love this horse so much and I am delighted to learn more about his heritage. How did you come to be so interested in Sham?
(Susane - Sham has been a favorite of mine since he challenged Secretariat and I first learned his name. Since then I realized no one really knew Sham because of Secretariat's spellbinding charisma, thus I became determined to bring Sham out of that shadow. I hope you enjoy my book. Mary)
I was so excited to get your book "Sham in the Shadow of a Superhorse". I never dreamed his story would be written and I am very thankful to see it in print. I fell in love with Sham when I was a teenager and watched the Wood Memorial on TV. I thought he would win the Derby, then I thought he would win the Preakness. Little did I know what would happen at the Belmont. Sham helped make history in all those races and ran his heart out. I was lucky to see Sham in person at Spendthrift Farm. He was part of my youth and I will always love and remember him. Thank you so much for writing this book. It is good to know other people loved him too.
Here's to the wonderful Sham? When I was a small girl I watched Sham race against Secretariat - I felt so bad about him losing I named my kitten after him. sham (the kitten) grew into a handsome and very loving cat. I miss them both!
Sham, I want to be a fan of yours. I bet you were a good boy back then Sham but right now you're in Heaven with all the other horses who have died including Barbaro, too. So God bless you Sham and Barbaro and that goes for you too, Mary Walsh.
(Angela: Thanks for being a fan of Sham's. It was great meeting you at Horse Connections. Keep on riding! Mary)
In a different year, Sham could have been a Triple Crown Winner. Always admired his guts in his races against Secretariat. We were fortunate enough to acquire a daughter of his, Wooly Bully. She has produced a few foals for us by Basket Weave and Top Account, our stallions. Each one has the same large star on their forehead, almost a perfect heart. Did Sham have that marking? I have never seen a picture of him without blinkers on so have not been able to find out.
(Kathie - Sham had no white markings. The picture on page 125 of my book shows him without his blinkers. Thanks for your interest. Mary)
I bought a copy of your book on Sham and all I can say is thank you - saw Sham at Spendthrift and 2 years ago went to Walmac to place roses on his grave to tell him thank you.
I love Sham, he was a great horse, I would love to see photos of him if possible, Thanks.
(Sharon: Thanks for the interest in Sham - a truly amazing horse. There are many great pictures in my book which is now available from the Online Book Store on this website. Also, more pictures in my article on the About page. Mary)
Although my current passion is Paint horses, I was blessed to own a son of Sham about 18 years ago. He was a magnificent 17.2 hand bay-with-white gelding who I evented through Preliminary Level. The ultimate Thoroughbred, he was a credit to his sire. Can't wait to read the book!!
It's wonderful that a book has been written honoring this horse. If he had been foaled a year sooner or later, he would be remembered differently. He gave all he had. Thanks to Mary Walsh for creating such a wonderful memory.
Sham is one of my all time favorite horses! A true champion with a huge heart! A very courageous racehorse, he'll always be remembered. :-)
A fine read. Sham gave it all he had. He was a champion that never got a full chance to show it. As a follow-up, I am hoping the writer will consider a book on Exceller, the forgotten champion whose death urged a people to reappraise animal slaughter practices.
Although forever a Secretariat fan, I also love and appreciate Sham, who raced his heart out against Big Red. Sham would have been the best if not born in 1970! He deserves racing's highest honor with an entry into the Hall of Fame!
New Bedford, MA
We have long waited for Sham's story. We all know that if not for Secretariat, this marvelous colt would have been the 9th Triple Winner and no doubt a Hall of Famer. He gave it everything he had and wouldn't quit. He would have been the horse Forego had to beat. Frankly, I believe he would have defeated most if not all other Triple Winners (including the great Seattle Slew). Unfortunately, his career was cut short before he could prove himself. He lives in our memories. Thank you again Mary Walsh for bringing him back. The Secretariat we know today was only because of the horse that challenged him then, and that horse was Sham.
San Antonio, AL
Thank you for writing this wonderful book about Sham. You have satisfied a curiosity I've had about the entire life of this great horse.
(Thanks Judy - it was my pleasure. Mary)
I just finished reading the book this weekend. It was a wonderful and sensitive treatment of the story of this marvelous horse. He was indeed unfortunate for being foaled in 1970. I searched the internet for the history of the word "Sham" and found it has Arabic roots meaning "unlucky." Mary, your writing put me right in the saddle. I could feel the drama of his races as they unfolded. I experienced the joy of his victories and the loss of his defeats and I just about broke down when he broke down in his workout following the Belmont Stakes. Thank the Lord his owner spared his life. You expressed his final moments very poignantly. I had always wondered about this horse, had always wanted to know his side and you brought it to light. It is tragic and undeserved that his life ended in near obscurity as evidenced by his humble tombstone at Walmac. His humble stud fees during his last years also brings that into focus, but it is also touching that someone at Walmac sees it fit to continuously honor his grave with flowers. One thing for sure, naming a stakes race after him informs us that California hasn't forgotten him. Thanks for your hard work Mary. A volume on Sham has been long overdo.
San Antonio, TX
(RA: Thanks for your kind words. I'm thrilled you obviously enjoyed my book so much. Mary)
Thanks so much for writing about Sham. He must have been an incredible horse!
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your book. You were so descriptive, including with the horses' thoughts and feelings. I could just picture each scene. Not having followed horse racing, I couldn't put the book down in anticipation of what was to happen. You even added a touch of romance in the paragraph where Sigmund is talking to Viola by phone and he caressed the phone line as if caressing her arm.... It does really make you sad to think that Sham didn't get the recognition he deserved.
Burlington, ON, Canada
(Hi Donna - Welcome to the exciting world of horse racing. Mary)
I was 10 years old when Sham won the Santa Anita Derby. He became my favorite and I was sad to see him run with all his heart only to be second best in the triple crown races. I own a horse, El Gato Malo, who ran second in this year's Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Sham was a great champion who should be remembered.
I remember :)
St. Ann, MO
With the Triple Crown about to be done again (Big Brown) it brought my attention to Secretariat and Sham again. Your book looks wonderful, cannot wait to buy.
Yesterday I finished reading Sham
. I had taken my time in order to savor it. What a wonderful book! Like many people, I have considered Secretariat to be one of the greatest racehorses of all time! But I always had a soft spot for Sham, the "other" horse who ran the Derby in record time. You have done an incredible job of researching and writing this book. I felt like I was right there throughout Sham's heartening times and heartbreaking times. You can bet I was sobbing by the end of the book! "If only" are such sad words, if only he had not raced in the Belmont...but his trainer had such faith in him. In 2004 I visited Walmac Farm in Lexington. And I saw Sham's headstone. Sham was an underdog—
a brave one—
and your book was heartwarming! Thank you!
Spring Creek, NV
(Thanks Edie - Sham will never be forgotten by many. Mary)
Secretariat. Any horse enthusiast knows the name, probably a good percentage of people on the street do too. You ask these same people about a horse named Sham and more than likely you will be met with blank stares. I have personally been involved with horses for 30 years and have never heard the story of Sham. Mary brings it to light. I was so intrigued by her story of this wonderful horse that I didn't want to put the book down. I want to thank her for bringing the story of this unsung hero into our homes!
I so very much enjoyed reading your book about Sham. Became misty-eyed when he was running the races. My next door neighbor also thought the book was wonderful - such detail. An amazing accomplishment putting it all together.
Fergus, ON, Canada
(Hi Rexene: It was my pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Mary)
I did get to see Sham, at Spendthrift Farm. I can say I was not impressed at the time with General Assembly and Foolish Pleasure there. But after reading the book, I'm glad I did see him!
Clifton Park, NY
(Comments are views and opinions of Sham's fans)