William Nack, Famed Sportswriter And Secretariat Biographer, Dead At 77

Newsday, Sports Illustrated journalist's 1975 book on the Thoroughbred later inspired a popular Disney movie.

William Nack
William Nack died on April 13 at the age of 77. (YouTube)

Secretariat, the much-lauded 1973 Triple Crown-winning Thoroughbred—who later weathered a stunning defeat in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course—has gone down in history as one of the top horses to ever set foot on any racetrack, let alone Saratoga’s. It punched the horse’s ticket to the Hall of Fame, too.

Though he’s been gone since 1989, Secretariat—and his incredible two- and three-year-old campaigns—has lived on in the words of journalist and biographer William Nack, who penned Secretariat: The Making of a Champion two years after the horse’s historic run.

William Nack’s 1975 book about Secretariat.

On April 13, Nack passed away at the age of 77, according to Sports Illustrated.

Nack first cut his teeth on the journalistic trade at Newsday, where he covered politics and the environment, eventually switching over to turf writing in the early ’70s. Five years after Secretariat’s Triple Crown run, Nack would join the staff of SI, where he’d end up covering a range of subjects, including, of course, horse racing (see: “Pure Heart,” which first published in 1990).

Nack would write for SI until 2001, when he broke out on his own, freelancing for titles such as GQ and ESPN. He would win a number of awards for his wordsmithery, including seven Eclipse Awards, the top honor for America’s turf writers, and the ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sportswriting just last year.

In 2010, Disney produced a movie version inspired by Nack’s Secretariat book, with the author consulting on the project and also making a short cameo.


Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.


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