Kate arrived in the Bluegrass State direct from the red carpet, having attended the “Secretariat” movie premiere in Hollywood. Her first book event was the Secretariat Festival in Paris, KY on October 2.
Our publisher (Wayne Dementi) and I left Richmond, VA at 7:00 am on Sunday, October 3 to rendezvous with Kate for the Kentucky premiere that evening. We arrived in Lexington around 4:00 p.m., with plenty of time (I thought delusionally) to primp and preen for this elegant occasion. That notion was quickly dispelled when we learned that we needed to be at the Kentucky Theatre well before the starting time of 6:00 p.m.
There I was, rather bedraggled after nine hours on the road. Likewise, Kate had been signing at the World Equestrian Games all day. It was like a starting gate clanged open. We set a new world’s record in getting “glammed up” and thank heaven, there were two bathrooms downstairs at the home of our gracious host !
In the end, it didn’t really matter. When Diane Lane stepped out of her limo in front of the theatre, looking sleek and impossibly beautiful, no one else existed on or near the red carpet. She was so gracious and poised in her strapless gown, unfazed by the cold drizzle that had the rest of us shivering. Then Kate’s mother, Penny Chenery, arrived in her limo, resplendent in a shimmering blue evening jacket. The crowd happily greeted her as one of their own. Penny lived in Lexington for many years before moving to Colorado and still keeps a few racehorses here.
Kate, Wayne and I walked the red carpet behind Penny. I had not expected to do that and was very proud to be part of that entourage as the Disney team waved us through. Kate shared the stage with Governor Steve Bashear and Disney officials and welcomed the audience on her family’s behalf.
This was my third time to see the Secretariat film and it was every bit as thrilling as when I first saw it in Denver. Punctuating the enjoyment were the exuberant reactions of the Kentucky audience, who cheered each time Diane Lane as Penny showed her mettle in a challenging situation. They left no doubt that Penny Chenery still reigns as “the First Lady of Racing.”
And just as if it were June 9, 1973 again, everyone was shouting and clapping and even crying as Secretariat thundered across the screen in his Belmont, a blaze-red Pegasus taking flight above the turf and lifting a nation with him.
As if that experience was not enough, I was fortunate to sit at a table during the reception after the movie with several Hall of Fame jockeys. Let me unabashedly drop a few names: Ron Turcotte, Jean Cruguet, Steve Cauthen. They all signed a copy of “Secretariat’s Meadow,” as did Otto Thorwarth who plays Ron in the movie. I also collected signatures from Governor Bashear AND Diane Lane, who wrote a special inscription to my husband who has loved her since “Lonesome Dove.” I later accosted Calvin Borel in the lobby and he signed my program.
Meanwhile our intrepid publisher, who I had vainly tried to chaperone, got his picture taken with Diane Lane. He would be the first to tell you that the nine-hour drive from Virginia was worth it!
That was just our first night in Kentucky. More to come on our visit to Claiborne Farm and signing at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
left to right: Kate Tweedy, Charlie Stone, Bill Nack, Leeanne Ladin, Tom Foley (who played Jim Gaffney in the movie)