Three Kings, Claiborne Farm (Nijinsky II, Spectacular Bid & Secretariat)

66| Richard Stone Reeves (American, 1910-2005)

Three Kings, Claiborne Farm (Nijinsky II, Spectacular Bid & Secretariat)

Auction Expired


Oil on canvas, 28" x 36"

This auction is under proxy bidding.

Auction Expired because there were no bids

$70000 - $90000

Pictured from left to right in a field at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, are Nijinsky II, Spectacular Bid, and Secretariat. While three grooms made their way into the work, the only one that can be specifically identified is Bobby Anderson with Secretariat. Nijinsky II arrived at Claiborne in the fall of 1970 and was joined by Secretariat after his retirement in the fall of 1973. Reeves painted this scene in 1981, shortly after Spectacular Bid joined the other two great champions at Claiborne in the fall of 1980 when he was syndicated for a then-record $22 million.
At the time of this painting, Claiborne was one of the world’s top breeding operations as evidenced by the farm’s Eclipse Awards as outstanding breeder in 1979 and again in 1984. Nijinsky II, the great British Triple Crown winner, would sire 155 stakes winners in his time at stud and is the only stallion to have sired a winner of the Kentucky and Epsom derbies in the same year. He was the leading broodmare sire in North America in 1993 and 1994.

Spectacular Bid achieved most of his legend on the track, never reaching the same heights at stud. Despite his record syndication price, his initial stud fee of $150,000 dropped over the years. He did sire 416 winners, including 44 stakes winners, who grossed more than $22 million in purse money.

The story of Secretariat’s racing career is well told, but his time at stud was more fruitful than some people have been led to believe. Among his best-known progeny are 1986 Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret, 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Risen Star, Kingston Rule, and General Assembly. He was the leading broodmare sire in North America in 1992.

Given their place in history, Reeves would paint all three horses numerous times over the years, all being favorite subjects of his. They have made numerous appearances in all of his books and in his writings he remembered them fondly:

“Perhaps Nijinsky II could be considered one of the six best horses I ever painted.”
Reeves, Crown Jewels of Thoroughbred Racing, Lexington, KY: The Blood-Horse, Inc., 1997, page 137

“I painted him shortly after he was retired to Claiborne. He was a very good-looking horse. He posed very well, and he handled very well.”
Reeves on Spectacular Bid, Royal Blood, Fifty Years of Classic Thoroughbreds, Lexington, KY: The Blood-Horse, Inc., 1994, page 190

“From all perspectives Secretariat was the very essence of the ideal Thoroughbred ... I don't remember an easier or more rewarding subject to paint.”
Reeves, Belmont Park, A Century of Champions, Lexington, KY: Blood-Horse Publications, 2005, page 104

This painting was reproduced as a signed and numbered lithograph in an edition of 850.


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