La Pradera building, at the crossroads of Arizona 82 and 83, was built to house Secretariat in his retirement. [CORRECTION OCT. 15, 2010: "Sonoita Inn was to be home to horse," on Page 22 of the Oct. 7 Caliente, incorrectly stated the purpose of the building that now houses the Sonoita Inn. It was built in 1980 to house shops. Initially called La Pradera, it became the Sonoita Inn in 1999.]
But the racehorse died in 1989 at the age of 19 and never made it to his retirement home.
That's according to Kate Scott, general manager of The Sonoita Inn, which now occupies the space. The hotel features a large collection of memorabilia about the Triple Crown champion in the lobby.
It's pure coincidence that Leslie Ammon will be checking into the hotel the same weekend that "Secretariat," the movie, is released.
Ammon met the legendary racehorse when Ammon worked for a bank in Richmond, Va. Secretariat's owner, Penny Tweedy (also known as Penny Chenery and played by Diane Lane in the film), was on the bank's board and invited everyone to the stables.
"It was just wonderful," he said.
Ammon, who has since retired and now lives in Prescott, had been planning to tour Southeastern Arizona and spotted the Sonoita Inn online.
"Up popped this thing saying the barn was designed for Secretariat and that got me thinking about the old days," said Ammon, who is eager to see the film when he returns home.
The Western boutique hotel at 3243 Highway 82 has 18 rustic rooms. Rates range from $129 to $159 a night. Call 1-520-455-5935 for more information.