Bigger than ever: An Oklahoma foundry prepares to cast the largest ever bronze of Secretariat

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NORMAN, OKLAHOMA -- Clay and foam.

Sculptor Jocelyn Russell's 'Secretariat' is still taking shape.

His thick chest, long flank and his rider Ron Turcotte were under construction when we visited this warehouse in Norman.

But 'Big Red', as his handlers used to call him, was still recognizable at more than one-and-a-half times his original size.

"We've gone from 66 inches to 102 inches at the shoulder," says Russell. "So he's more than life and a half."

Russell was on vacation when civic leaders in Kentucky called and asked if she'd be willing to sculpt Secretariat.

The opportunity was huge but, then, so was the responsibility to get it just right.

"At first I thought, 'This is great! Secretariat!' Then I thought, 'Oh my God! This is Secretariat!' That means the scope is intimidating but I was excited to do it anyhow," Russell recalls.

She started with weeks of research, then a small version, and, then, this one in polyurethane foam.

She'll spend the first weeks of 2019 covering Secretariat with clay, adding a little texture and finishing the final form.

"Once we cast all the big pieces in bronze," says Russell. "We figure he'll weigh around 3,500 pounds."

The artist lives in Washington but the foundry charged with turning her clay to bronze performs its magic in Norman, Oklahoma.

This won't be the Crucible's largest casting or Russell's, but in the coming months this will be the largest ever rendering of Secretariat.

"Now, someone is probably going to come in and do twice life size. Then I'll have to do one bigger than that," Jocelyn muses.

By Derby Day, these legs might be in wax casts.

By the end of summer, Secretariat will be sprinting toward another finish like in a big truck, headed from blue stem to blue grass, the perfect horse standing taller than ever all by himself.

Russell estimates an October unveiling near Lexington, Kentucky.

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