Author Adventures with Big Red on the Red Carpet

 

In the spirit of Secretariat’s record-smashing performance in the Derby, you could call the Kentucky leg of our “Barnstorming Book Tour” the “Every Furlong Faster” tour.

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.

Leeanne Ladin

left to right:  Kate Tweedy, Charlie Stone, Bill Nack, Leeanne Ladin, Tom Foley (who played Jim Gaffney in the movie)  

Kate, Charlie Stone, Bill Nack, Leeanne, Tom Foley

Secretariat’s Meadow Galloping into Kentucky

Our Barnstorming Book Tour is going along at a fast clip!  October will kick off with a crowded field of events!

First,  Kate and Penny will be going to LA for the long-awaited premiere of the Secretariat film on Sept. 30. We will look for them on the red carpet!  Or maybe it will be a blue and white carpet for the Meadow Stable colors?  

Then our jet-setting Kate lands in Paris, KY for the Bourbon County Secretariat Festival on October 2 where she will be meeting and greeting fans and signing “Secretariat’s Meadow.”  On October 3, she is signing at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington for our good friends with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.  That evening, Wayne Dementi (our publisher)  and I meet up with Kate for the special screening of the film and a book signing.

On October 4, we have signings at the International Equestrian Festival in Lexington and at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville. Wayne and I have to get back to Richmond on October 5, but Kate stays to continue signing at WEG and IEF through October 6.

On October 7, Kate rejoins us in Richmond for another round of book events  through October 14. The complete schedule for the book tour is posted on www.secretariatsmeadow.com  We promise to post lots of pics and video.  Be sure to check our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Secretariats-Meadow-The-Land-The-Family-The-Legend/107942289227260?v=wall#! for for daily updates from Kentucky!

It’s starting to feel like Secretariat’s Derby where he ran every furlong faster!

Leeanne Meadows Ladin

co-author, “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend”

A Rocky Mountain High for Secretariat’s Meadow

Have been on a “Rocky Mountain high” since our whirlwind trip to Denver for the advance screening of the Secretariat movie on Sunday September 12.  Over 400 guests of the Chenery family attended and so did Entertainment Tonight! They interviewed Penny and Kate and shot a lot of footage of the crowd.  The LA premiere is September 30 and this segment is supposed to air sometime before that, we think.

The movie was everything I had hoped it would be. Three things impressed me the most :  the thrilling, hoof-pounding (and heart-pounding) racing scenes; Diane Lane’s portrayal of Penny facing her many challenges with determination, class and style; and the emphasis on The Meadow, Secretariat’s Virginia birthplace. As a Virginian, that was very meaningful to me.

After the screening, the crowd, which had filled two theatres, surged back into the lobby, buzzing about the movie. People were saying that  even though they knew the ending, the  movie was still very exciting .  There were many comments about how the movie would show what a great role model Penny Chenery was (and is!) especially for women and girls.

 The movie is sparking a resurgence of interest in this great champion by letting us “boomers” relive those glory days of his Triple Crown  and it’s introducing him to a whole new generation.    Never did I imagine, as I sat in front of our black and white TV in 1973, screaming as Secretariat won the Belmont in another zip code from the rest of the field, that I would be signing a book about him at a movie screening. We sold 10 cases of books in one hour!

And I get to do it all over again on September 22 with the Virginia Thoroughbred Assoc. in Northern Virginia at a special screening they are hosting.  Hope we can do as well as we did in Denver!  I certainly don’t mind this kind of writer’s cramp!

Leeanne Meadows Ladin

Kicking off our Barnstorming Book Tour!

 

And they’re off!”  

 We are out of the starting gate for our “Barnstorming Book Tour” to promote “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend.”  Kate Chenery Tweedy and I are the co-authors of this new pictorial history about Secretariat and his Virginia birthplace, The Meadow.

This blog will be our report from the field as we embark upon a book tour that is taking us from Doswell, Virginia to Denver, Colorado, from Saratoga to Santa Anita and many places in between.   So saddle up and come along for the ride!

We’ve been doing “pre-publication” events since March when we formally announced the book at the celebration of Secretariat’s 40th birthday at The Meadow, his birthplace in Doswell, VA. 

This summer we knew we had to be at Saratoga, where the nation’s Thoroughbred racing community has been gathering for over a century.  Our publisher Wayne Dementi acquired a quantity of advance copies  so that Kate could do sales and signings at the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame August 14-15 and with the TRF on TRF Day at the track today on August 18.

The timing was perfect for giving a sneak preview of Secretariat’s Meadow. Thirty-eight years ago on August 16, 1972, a strapping chestnut colt burst onto the racing scene with his electrifying win in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. Kate was with her mother Penny Chenery at the track and saw Secretariat’s bold run.  As she says in our book, ” It was my first inkling that Mom’s rollercoaster ride in racing may not end with Riva Ridge.”

Riva Ridge had won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont in 1972 , two -thirds of the Triple Crown, catapulting Penny Chenery and Meadow Stable into the national spotlight.  No one could have imagined what was in store for 1973.

So far,  Secretariat’s Meadow is showing  lots of promise at its first official sales outing.  Kate says the book got a tremendous reception at the racing museum, at Saratoga Impressions gift shop, and at Saratoga Saddlery. I’m awaiting her report on TRF Day.  Then she jets off to Chicago for the Arlington Million this weekend.

More book tour news  coming soon as we get closer to publication in early September!

Leeanne  Meadows Ladin