Preakness Stakes

Jason Kelce apologizes for ‘unfair’ assertion that Secretariat was on steroids

Jason Kelce apologizes for 'unfair' assertion that Secretariat was on steroids

For those who follow horse racing − and even among those who have only a passing knowledge of it − the name Secretariat stands out above all other horses to ever compete in the sport.

Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest racehorse of all time, and his 1973 Triple Crown is considered the stuff of legend. It includes a still-standing track record at the Kentucky Derby, where he became the first horse to run the 1 1/4-mile race in less than two minutes (1:59.40). He later won the Triple Crown with a record-breaking 31-length victory at the Belmont Stakes.

So it was perhaps unsurprising when horse-racing fans and enthusiasts reacted negatively to unfounded assertions by Jason Kelce that Secretariat was on steroids during his historic run to the Triple Crown in 1973. The retired All-Pro center made those claims on a Wednesday episode of his "New Heights" podcast alongside brother Travis Kelce, who was one of several celebrity attendees at the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby.

His comments came during a segment of the episode titled, "Secretariat is a fraud."

"Secretariat just so happens to be right in the heart of the steroid era − 1973, every NFL player, every baseball player, they were juicing them to the gills. You don't think Secretariat was (expletive) juiced to the rafters?" Jason Kelce claimed. "Of course it's the fastest horse of all time. They didn't drug test Secretariat the way they did Mystik Dan.

"Nobody talks about it: Secretariat was doping. There is no chance that Secretariat wasn't doping."

Former Philadelphia Eagle Jason Kelce reacts before a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Kelce later doubled down on his assertion with a post on X (formerly Twitter), pointing to Secretariat's famously large heart, which he claimed to be a symptom of steroid use among athletes. At the time of his death, Secretariat's heart reportedly weighed roughly 22 pounds, about 2.5 times as heavy as that of an average horse.

Kelce's comments received significant backlash, eventually causing him to apologize for his "unfair" assertion that Secretariat's 1973 Triple Crown was the result of doping.

Among those who spoke out against Kelce's comments were Kate Tweedy, whose mother, Penny Chenery, owned Secretariat. She said her reaction was "outrage," adding tht Kelce, as a national athlete, should avoid spreading claims on his platform without evidence.

"We, the family of Penny Chenery, strongly protest the grossly inaccurate speculation recently posted by Jason Kelce about Secretariat racing while being ‘juiced,’" she said in a statement released to Sports Illustrated. "Kelce later admitted that he knows nothing about Secretariat and bases his opinions entirely on the fact that Secretariat belonged to an era when drug use in athletes was rampant.

“The fact is Secretariat was never given performance enhancing drugs. Indeed, both our mother Penny Chenery, who managed Secretariat, and our grandfather Christopher Chenery, who bred him, were morally committed to the rule that horses should only be given healthy feed, water and such medical treatment as is required to maintain health. It was a well-known rule among our trainers and handlers. … As a pro athlete, Kelce has a national platform, which places on him the responsibility not to assert facts he has no information about."

As for Kelce's claim that Secretariat's heart size was the result of doping, Tweedy called it a "genetic gift of nature that enabled him to run farther and faster than any horse in the last century."

Kelce's comments eventually reached the ears of horse trainer Kenny McPeek, who during the Kentucky Derby achieved the rare Oaks/Derby Double. His horse, Mystik Dan, won the Kentucky Derby, placing the hopes of a Triple Crown winner with him. McPeek offered Kelce the opportunity to come see the horse run in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

Whether Kelce takes up McPeek's invite remains to be seen.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Jason Kelce apologizes for asserting that Secretariat was on steroids

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