Penny Chenery called the lanky bay colt her “Golden Boy,” and, indeed, Riva Ridge seemed to have the golden touch when it came to bringing dreams to fruition.
In 1971, his record race winnings of $500,000 kept Christopher Chenery’s Meadow Stable in Virginia off the auction block and enabled Penny to keep alive her father’s lifelong dream of winning the Kentucky Derby.

On May 6, 1972, Riva delivered on that dream as well. After a thirty-year effort by Meadow Stable, Riva Ridge became its first horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Chenery, at age 86, hospitalized and unable to speak, shed tears of joy at the news. Riva went on to win the Belmont in 1972 and several important races as a four-year-old in 1973. 

Now, in 2022, this updated edition celebrates the golden anniversary of Riva’s historic Derby and Belmont, as well as the special bond between him and Penny. How fitting that what would have been Penny’s 100th birthday also occurs in 2022. Therefore, we invite you to celebrate both the First Lady of Racing and her First Champion, Riva Ridge! VIVA RIVA!

Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Meadows Ladin

Read about our efforts to bring sculptor Jocelyn Russell’s magnificent statue of Secretariat to Virginia here at
For continuing updates on Secretariat events, Secretariat descendants, the Secretariat Team, and featured posts about the history of Meadow Stable, please follow us on our Secretariat’s Meadow Facebook page.  
SECRETARIAT BIRTHPLACE TOURS SUSPENDED: The regular narrated tours at The Meadow have been suspended indefinitely.  Please check for updates.
Secretariat’s birthplace at The Meadow is listed on the state and national historic registers.