We want to be the first to send the “First Lady of Racing,” Penny Chenery, our warmest wishes for a Happy Birthday on January 27!
Last year was a milestone birthday at age 90, but this year will also be very special for Penny. It marks the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s historic Triple Crown of 1973. His fame remains undiminished by time, largely due to Penny’s tireless efforts as his ambassador and her dedicated stewardship of his glorious legacy.
As legions of fans know and appreciate, Penny did not retire from the scene after Secretariat retired from racing. She continued to graciously greet her horse’s admirers at events all across the country, signing autographs for hours at a time. She served as president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association from 1976-1984. She was also president of the Grayson Foundation supporting equine research in 1985-86. In 1983, she was elected to membership in The Jockey Club, one of its first women members. A leading advocate for the health and welfare of retired Thoroughbreds, Penny was instrumental in creating the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. She established the Secretariat Foundation to help support worthy causes, such as laminitis research.
In 2005, Penny received the Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime achievement in racing. In 2012, the Thoroughbred Club of America’s honored her at its 81st Testimonial Dinner.
At the TCA dinner, Julie Cauthen, club president said, “Through all of these years, Penny Chenery has remained the epitome of a grand lady of racing, always representing the highest ambitions and standards of those to whom the Thoroughbred is an important part of life. We can all be truly proud that she is a part of our sport.”
We in Virginia are proud of Penny’s ties to our state as the birthplace of Secretariat at The Meadow, the farm founded by her father, Christopher Chenery. Under her leadership, Meadow Stable produced not only Secretariat, but Riva Ridge, who won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont. Together they won five of six consecutive Triple Crown races in 1972-73, something no other stable has ever done.
Moreover, we are thrilled that Penny is scheduled to attend the SECRETARIAT BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT THE MEADOW on March 29-30. This event, the bulk of which takes place on Secretariat’s birthday of March 30, will kick off the official celebration of his Triple Crown anniversary. Ron Turcotte, Secretariat’s jockey, and Charlie Davis, exercise rider, are also slated to attend.
Penny said, “I am delighted to join Ronnie and Charlie on Secretariat’s birthday at The Meadow to kick off the celebration marking the 40th anniversary of his 1973 Triple Crown. Virginia holds such fond memories for me and I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.”
To read more about the event, see www.secretariatsmeadow.com/events and also get updates on our Facebook page. For announcements of future 40th anniversary events and more info about Secretariat, see www.secretariat.com
In the meantime, Happy Birthday, Penny, with deep gratitude for your magnificent champions and your inspiring career! We will see you soon!
Leeanne Meadows Ladin
co-author “Secretariat’s Meadow – the Land, the Family, The Legend” and “Riva Ridge – Penny’s First Champion”