Message from Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow and co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend” and “Riva Ridge – Penny’s First Champion” with Kate Chenery Tweedy:
I had planned to make this announcement at the Secretariat 50th Birthday Celebration at The Meadow, which was canceled, as you know. Not wanting to detract from the online celebration, I have delayed sharing this message until today.
I am retiring as Secretariat tourism manager/historian at his birthplace, The Meadow in Virginia. It’s been a good run for the past 10 years and I am very proud of what we accomplished in developing a year-round program of narrated tours, special events and historic preservation. None of it would have been possible, however, without the jumpstart that our beloved Penny Chenery gave us by attending our first events, loaning rare family heirlooms and Meadow Stable memorabilia for display, and by sending Groundshaker, her last racehorse, to The Meadow to be our resident Secretariat descendant and star of the tour program. Penny’s children, especially my best friend and co-author Kate Chenery Tweedy, further extended that commitment, for which I will always be grateful. I’m also enormously grateful for the enthusiastic support of the Secretariat fans, our dedicated volunteers, our steadfast sponsors and many others over the years.
My husband Gary (the most faithful volunteer of all) and I are moving from The Meadow to our river cottage about 90 minutes away. Let me hasten to add that, although I’m leaving The Meadow, I’m NOT leaving our Secretariat community. Kate and I have two new book projects to start soon, both of which have a link to Secretariat and Meadow Stable. Hopefully, when circumstances permit, we will continue to give book talks and attend special events such as the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs and elsewhere. I will also keep our Secretariat’s Meadow Facebook page and website going. I am very much looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends, as social distancing permits, and to riding my beautiful gaited horse, My Girl.
In terms of the future of the Secretariat tour program, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, owner of The Meadow Event Park, has stated that they are committed to continuing to tell the story of the farm and to preserving the historic barns. For now, the tours and all events have been suspended due to the coronavirus. In these uncertain times, no one can make any definite plans.
In light of all these changes, Groundshaker and Mia the mini have been moved from The Meadow. Groundshaker is being boarded nearby at a Thoroughbred stable for the time being. Mia has a forever home with some dear friends who have a beautiful farm and are spoiling her rotten. Both horses are in good hands.
Let me conclude by saying that working here has never been just a job for me. It has been a mission, a passion and a labor of love. And I am not at the finish line. I plan to “go the distance” (maybe until I’m 95 like Penny) to help preserve the legacy of “the land, the family and the legend.” Wherever I go, my heart will live at The Meadow forever.
I know for many of you that your hearts are here as well. I hope to see you again, and in the meantime, please stay safe, stay well, and keep the Big Red flame burning!