The Secretariat Birthday Party Goes On!

Some of you may have heard the sad news that The Meadow, which was owned by the State Fair of Virginia, has been closed to the public.  The Fair (a private, not for profit organization) was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 8 when the bank did not accept its plan to reorganize. 

This was heart-breaking news for Virginians who grew up going to the Fair and especially for those of us who had enjoyed a long association with its staff.  That association had become even more enjoyable in recent years as we worked together on  the annual Secretariat birthday party, which the Fair hosted at The Meadow,  and the popular  “Secretariat’s Meadow Tours” for public and private groups. We even announced our “Secretariat’s Meadow” book there in 2010.  It was very sad to see our friends lose their jobs.

 Our book team  did not want these circumstances to force the cancellation of the annual Secretariat’s Birthday celebration, planned for Saturday March 31. So we took this on as a volunteer effort  and are happy to say that Randolph-Macon College in nearby Ashland will host the event on March 31 in Andrews Hall from 1 – 5 pm. There are longstanding ties with the college as Christopher Chenery, who founded The Meadow in 1936 as a Thoroughbred farm, attended school there, along with two of his brothers.  Last year, Randolph-Macon awarded Penny Chenery an Honorary Doctor of  Laws degree.

 Yes, the birthday  program is scaled back but we still have fans coming from Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina and Delaware!  That speaks volumes about what this magnificent horse means to people across the country!

Here’s a brief outline of the program:

  •  1:00 pm. – Welcome and Presentation on the history of The Meadow,  Secretariat and Riva Ridge by Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Meadows Ladin, co-authors of “Secretariat’s Meadow, The Land, The Family, The Legend”
  • Meeting former Meadow grooms and jockeys and seeing Riva’s first training saddle
  • Discussion of possible historical designation options for important sites at The Meadow
  • Continuous showing of Secretariat’s and Riva’s most famous races
  • Book signings and sale of Secretariat items
  • Secretariat and Riva cake
  • 3:00 p.m.  – Repeat presentation by authors 
  • 5:00  p.m. – EVENT CONCLUDES

Tickets are $5 at the door and advance registration is required.  Because seating is limited, we ask that you indicate whether you will attend the 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm presentation. Go to our website www.secretariatsmeadow.com for more info and to register.

As for The Meadow, we will keep our readers posted on future developments here, on our website and our Facebook page. 

In any event, we sincerely hope that next year in 2013, we will be back at The Meadow to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown!

by Leeanne Meadows Ladin

co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow”

copyright 2012

www.secretariatsmeadow.com

Risen Star, Son of Secretariat

    In light of the upcoming Risen Star Stakes on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Fairgrounds racetrack in New Orleans, we wanted to share a little something about its namesake. 

Risen Star  (1985–1998) was one of Big Red’s best and biggest colts.  He was a strapping 17-hand dark bay out of the mare Ribbon, who boasted the great Hail to Reason in her pedigree.

In 1988, Risen Star began his march toward the Kentucky Derby by winning the Louisiana Derby  and the Lexington Stakes. However, that would be one of the rare years when a filly, Winning Colors, beat the boys and took the roses.  Risen Star finished third in the Derby, but came roaring back to win the Preakness at 1:56 1/5, the second fastest time since Secretariat in 1973.

He then thrilled the crowds at the Belmont Stakes by winning by 14 ¾ lengths as the announcer shouted “He looks just like his daddy!” He posted the then-second fastest time of 2:26 2/5 behind his sire’s record-shattering 2:24.  Today it ranks as the fourth fastest time in the Belmont behind Secretariat, A.P. Indy and Easy Goer.

After the Belmont,  Risen Star’s groom Harold Joseph reportedly said, “You’re the champeen!  Your daddy jumped out of you today!”  Because he’d won two jewels of the Triple Crown, Risen Star earned the $1,000,000 Chrysler Triple Crown Bonus awarded to the three-year-old with the best finishes in the three races.

He won the 1988 Eclipse Award as the top three-year-old colt.  That established him as the first third-generation Eclipse Award winner in the same category, as he followed Secretariat in 1973 and his grandsire Bold Ruler in 1957.

Risen Star was retired to stud after an injury which occurred in his famous Belmont.   Tomorrow, in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes, another Secretariat descendant will try to strengthen his resume as a Kentucky Derby contender.   His name is El Padrino.  He’s the son of Pulpit, thus a grandson of A.P. Indy and a great-great grandson of Big Red.  The odds-makers list El Padrino as the favorite for the 1 1/16 mile race.

To paraphrase that classic  Mardi Gras  line “Let the good times roll,”  we say “Let the good horses roll!” 

Good luck El Padrino!  Make Risen Star and Secretariat proud!

Here is a link to video of Risen Star’s great Belmont race of 1988.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhqFUQtaWkI]

 

ALSO CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.SECRETARIATSMEADOW.COM FOR NEWS OF THE UPCOMING SECRETARIAT BIRTHDAY PARTY MARCH 31 AT THE MEADOW.

Leeanne Meaadows Ladin

Co-author “Secretariat’s Meadow”

 copyright 2012

 

The Big Red Flame Keeps Burning Up the Track

(We’re a bit behind schedule because of the holidays but wanted to get in one more post before the New Year, so thanks for your patience.)

In our last post we promised to write about all the Secretariat descendants who ran in the 2011 Breeder’s Cup races.  That may have been a little ambitious, as one fan pointed out there were 83! We haven’t checked those numbers but will take his word for it.  To make this manageable, we will focus on the races where the winners and major contenders have Secretariat in their pedigree (or in some cases, Sir Ivor, son of Sir Gaylord, whose dam was Somethingroyal.)

 Ladies Classic – Royal Delta out of Delta Princess by A. P. Indy won this race. She beat It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty, also A. P. Indy girls.

Juvenile Sprint – Secret Circle by Eddington won this.  He’s not a direct descendant but his sire has Sir Ivor by Sir Gaylord  on his dam’s side. (Sir Ivor won the Epsom Derby, redeeming Sir Gaylord’s failure to run in the Kentucky Derby in 1962 due to a fractured sesamoid.)

Juvenile Fillies Turf – Stephanie’s Kitten by Kitten’s Joy  won this race. She has Sir Ivor/Sir Gaylord on the top and Storm Cat on the bottom of her pedigree.

Filly and Mare Sprint – Musical Romance beat Turbulent Descent, the heavy  favorite, who has both Indy and Storm Cat bloodlines. Turbulent Descent is cited as one to watch for 2012.

Juvenile Fillies – My Miss Aurelia took this one.  She is a great-granddaughter of Storm Cat.

Filly and Mare Turf – Perfect Shirl , a great-granddaughter of Big Red himself, took this one. 

Juvenile Turf – Wrote won this and he has the Sir Ivor/Sir Gaylord link on the bottom.

Turf Sprint – Regally Ready won it (no relation) but Country Day placed second.  He’s a great-grandson of Gone West out of the mare Secrettame.

Dirt Mile – Caleb’s Posse (no relation) won it but Shackleford, who won the 2011 Preakness, placed second.  Also in this race were Tapizar  byPulpit (A. P. Indy) and Wilburn  by Bernardini (A.P. Indy).

Breeder’s Cup Juvenile – Hansen won this.  He’s by Tapit by Pulpit and also has Storm Cat on the bottom.

Breeder’s Cup Mile – Court Vision won.  His dam is Weekend Storm out of Weekend Surprise, a Secretariat daughter. Other “cousins” who ran include: Gio Ponti , Sidney’s Candy, Get Stormy  and Courageous Cat  –  all of the Storm Cat bloodline.

Breeder’s Cup Classic –  Drosselmeyer (no relation) who won the 2011 Belmont, won this race.  Also in this talented field were: Flat Out by Flatter (A.P.Indy);  To Honor and Serve and Stay Thirsty, both by Bernardini; Ice Box by Pulpit; and Rattlesnake Bridge and Headache, both by Tapit.  Clearly the A.P.Indy line dominated this field. 

Good news for 2012:  Stay Thirsty will continue to race, as will Florida Derby winner Dialed In, a Mineshaft colt (A. P. Indy.)  

We’ll need a spread sheet but we’ll be keeping a close eye on these Big Red  babies for 2012!  In fact, we’ll start on Sunday, New Year’s Day with the  new Gulfstream Park Derby. Bernardini has Casual Trick running and Pulpit has Sacristy.  Silver Menace (Storm Cat) will also bear watching.

We close out this year by wishing all Thoroughbreds Happy Birthday on January 1, their official date of birth.  Happy New Year to all our readers and fans of Secretariat!

Leeanne Ladin

www.secretariatsmeadow.com

copyright 2011

Secretariat’s Descendants – From the Homestretch to the Home Front: Little Red’s “Golden” Opportunity in the Rockies

This new series will look at some of Secretariat’s most famous progeny and how the mighty stallion of Meadow Stable continues to fire the blood of some of the best racehorses on the track today. We will also look at the descendants whose most important contributions have been made, not on the homestretch, but on the home front as pleasure horses, working horses and simply beloved companions. We are very grateful to the owners who send in the stories and photos of their Secretariat descendants. In this way, “the legend lives on!”

LITTLE RED’S “GOLDEN” OPPORTUNITY  IN THE ROCKIES

This great-great grandson of Big Red was born on March 29, 2010 in Ocala, Florida,  one day before Secretariat’s birthday of March 30.  His dam, Beautiful Wonder, has Secretariat on both the top and bottom of her pedigree. However, his illustrious bloodline did not protect him from a difficult start in life.

Born with an umbilical hernia for which his owner could not afford veterinary treatment, Little Red was relinquished to a local rescue group. He also had a badly infected foot. In the heartbreaking turn of events, the foal had to leave his mother before he was weaned. Her pitiful whinnying echoed in his ears as he was transported away to a strange new location.  However, thanks to the good volunteers at Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue in Morriston, FLA,  the colt received the medical treatment he desperately needed and began to recover.

 Eventually, Kateri Nelson, who worked with the American Humane Association, heard about a beautiful chestnut colt nicknamed Armani up for adoption. Born in Montreal, she felt a special connection to this descendant of Secretariat, due to the French-Canadians, jockey Ron Turcotte and trainer Lucien Laurin, who were such an integral part of his success. Finally, Little Red’s pedigree was going to bring him some good luck.

He just had one more hurdle.  Kateri lived 1,800 miles from Ocala in Golden, Colorado.  The notion of shipping the colt across country seemed too far-fetched to consider.

However, benevolent forces were at work that would lead to a “Golden” opportunity for the colt and Kateri.  Her husband, Dean,  (in a move that should have awarded him “Husband of the Year” honors!) secretly arranged to adopt Little Red.  The colt was on his way to their ranch when  Dean finally told Kateri the good news.  An ecstatic Kateri described the colt’s arrival in early November 2010:

“At least I thought he was little until the driver unloaded him. At the tender age of seven months, Armani was already 14.2 hands and was walking on stilts. In fact, you could almost hear the bugle call when he walked down the ramp; he had the confidence of a champion!”

Kateri, along with her husband and son,  greeted him with open arms.  A few days later, the Florida colt got his first taste of Colorado snow!

Today, nearly a year later,  Little Red, now renamed Tristan,  continues to thrive in his new home.   Kateri describes how the once-sickly colt has developed in size and personality:

“Over time, his personality has blossomed. He shows more  and more assertiveness, and has developed a mischievous side directly proportionate to his great intelligence. He quickly found his place in our little herd of three horses and rarely needed to be reprimanded by his elders, even today. Fortunately for us he exhibits a similar behavior with humans. In fact, I’m still amazed that despite his painful early life and the long trip to Colorado, Little Red is as confident as he is. The son of a king, he deserved a name reflecting his noble birth and his great courage. So Sir Tristan of the Round Table became the obvious choice, especially for our 9-year old son. Since he arrived, our horse with many names has picked up a few inches —  three weeks or so before his first birthday, we measured him at 15.2 hands. The veterinarian thinks that he will reach 16.2 or 16.3 hands at maturity. Then Tristan will hopefully calmly carry us on his back despite the bugle call that will resonate in his head, and the beating of hooves pounding deep in his heart.”

This author can personally attest to Little Red’s personality.  Kate Tweedy and I stopped at Kateri’s place in Golden to meet Little Red on our way to Aspen this summer to go riding at a friend’s ranch.   The colt was prancing about in his paddock, exuding confidence but not cockiness. He was not skittish as we two strangers approached and, like his great-great grandsire, seemed to relish the attention as we cooed and fussed over him.  

Then he did the most amazing thing.  I was petting his glossy neck when he bent his head down and tucked it up under my neck and just stayed there, breathly softly on my shirt.  Kate and Kateri said it looked as if Little Red  was whispering a secret to me. I told them he was.

He was telling me that he was both proud and humbled to have the blood of a mighty  champion running through his veins.  I told him that this made him very special and that he always must honor the spirit of his legendary ancestor.    

By all indications, that is exactly what Little Red is doing. Thanks to the good work of the equine rescue group, a lifelong Secretariat fan, and a good-hearted husband, the young Thoroughbred now has a future befitting his lineage. The little colt who got off to a rocky start in life now has a forever family in the Rockies of Colorado.

Little Red October 2011 (19 mos.old)

Many thanks to  Kateri Nelson for sharing her photos and story.  And thanks to all the equine rescue groups who help find forever homes for horses like Little Red!

If you own or have owned a Secretariat descendant and would like to share your story, please email me at laladin@verizon.net, with pedigree verification.  

 By Leeanne Meadows Ladin

copyright 2011

www.secretariatsmeadow.com

 

October 4, 1989…Remembering Big Red

 

It’s hard to believe that 22 years have passed since Secretariat died on October 4, 1989.    It’s hard to believe because, in many respects, his presence seems stronger than ever.  

 Kate Chenery Tweedy and I see the unquenchable passion for this horse firsthand as we travel around the country doing book talks and signings for “Secretariat’s Meadow.” Everyone wants to share their Secretariat story. For countless fans,  his Belmont win stands as one of the defining moments of their lives. Many fans cry unashamedly when they talk about him. And now a whole new generation of fans has emerged, thanks to the Disney movie about Secretariat.

He continues to make his presence known  at the racetrack. Every year, at the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont, sportscasters ask  what has become a rhetorical question – “Will there ever be another Secretariat?”

His presence at the track is much more than symbolic.  Secretariat’s progeny continue to carry his influence well into the 21st century.  As a great broodmare sire, Secretariat figures in the pedigrees of such champions as A. P. Indy, Storm Cat, Smarty Jones, Summer Bird, Rags to Riches, to name a few.  Bernardini, a great-grandson of Secretariat, is one of the most successful Thoroughbred sires today.  

For Penny Chenery, Secretariat has remained a constant presence in her life.  For nearly 40 years, she has been a tireless ambassador for her horse and the true “keeper of the flame.”   At age 89, she continues to be accessible to fans, who turn out in droves when she makes an appearance at an event.   She is their link to a legend.

 As we reflect on Secretariat’s life and legacy, Penny’s eulogy for her horse expresses what he meant to people and most of all, to her. It ran in the New York Times and was excerpted in our book “Secretariat’s Meadow  – The Land, the Family, The Legend.” 

(from Penny Chenery’s eulogy for Secretariat:)

“Secretariat’s death on Wednesday marked the end of a wonderful dream I have been privileged to live. In my eyes, he was the finest thoroughbred performer of the last 50 years and he certainly provided me with a unique experience.

I used to think that we had created him but, having tried to duplicate him for 15 years, I now realize it was just the luck of the draw. A marvelous horse was born and he happened to be born to us.

…. Secretariat seemed to realize his role then was to be a folk hero. His demeanor was that of a champion in whatever he was asked to do.

….I’m going to miss him terribly. My family and I join the many people who have been his loyal fans in great sadness at his loss. He was not only a champion race horse, but a cherished friend. “

 by Leeanne Meadows Ladin

co-author  “Secretariat’s Meadow”

www.secretariatsmeadow.com

copyright 2011

Secretariat’s Descendants…from the Homestretch to the Homefront

 

This new series will look at some of Secretariat’s most famous progeny and how the mighty stallion of Meadow Stable continues to fire the blood of some of the best racehorses on the track today. We will also look at the descendants whose most important contributions have been made, not on the homestretch, but on the home front as pleasure horses, working horses and simply beloved companions. Read more at www.secretariatsmeadow.com on how “the legend lives on!”

WEEKEND SURPRISE AND THE X FACTOR

No, you won’t see her on Simon Cowell’s new talent show “The X Factor.”  But Secretariat’s daughter Weekend Surprise (1980- 2001) demonstrated plenty of talent as a broodmare. She was one of the reasons that Secretariat became an outstanding broodmare sire. He bequeathed his dynamic DNA to daughters such as her, who then passed it to their sons.

Weekend Surprise was said to carry the gene to pass on the “big heart” to her offspring. She inherited this “X-factor” from Secretariat, who was found to have a naturally huge heart that was two to three times the size of a normal heart for a racehorse. Other racing greats such as Man o’ War and Eclipse were also said to have the large heart.

In fact, Weekend Surprise is said to be a “double-copy” mare, with the X factor present on both the top and bottom of her pedigree. That means she also got the large heart gene from her dam, Lassie Dear.

Here is what Marianna Haun , who has studied the X factor for many years, said about Weekend Surprise:   “One double copy mare is the Thoroughbred Weekend Surprise, a daughter of Secretariat that is out of a double copy dam. Weekend Surprise’s dam, Lassie Dear, produced all winners and so has her daughter, which produced Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and millionaire Summer Squall. Both sires now are producing outstanding daughters, and when mated with large-hearted mares, are producing outstanding sons.”  You can read more on this at  http://www.horsesonly.com/crossroads/xfactor/heart-1.htm

 A. P. Indy, by Seattle Slew, won the 1992 Belmont Stakes and the Breeder’s Cup Classic, two of his most outstanding victories.  When he took Horse of the Year honors in 1992, Weekend Surprise was named Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. He became one of the most influential stallions of his time. More on A.P. Indy in a future post.

Weekend Surprise’s colt Summer Squall  won the 1990 Preakness. His grandson Summer Bird, “the chestnut thunderbolt,” won the 2009 Belmont and Horse of the Year honors. Summer Squall also sired Rainaway, who now lives at The Meadow, his great-grandfather’s birthplace here in Virginia.

Weekend Surprise also figures in the pedigree of Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the Belmont in 100 years in 2007.   Before becoming a broodmare, Weekend Surprise won three stakes races. One of her last foals, sired by Storm Cat (who was out of Secretariat’s daughter Terlingua) sold for $3 million at the 1999 Keeneland sales in Kentucky.

Weekend Surprise was sired by Buckpasser, 1966 Eclipse Horse of the Year. As noted, her  dam was Lassie Dear.  Interestingly, Lassie Dear’s grandsire was Sir Gaylord, one of Meadow Stable’s champions and a Derby favorite in 1962. And his dam was Somethingroyal, who of course became immortalized as Secretariat’s dam in 1970. 

Weekend Surprise died in 2001 due to complications after giving birth to her 14th foal.   She is buried at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.

Christopher Chenery, founder of Meadow Stable, who created “an empire built on broodmares” with Somethingroyal, Hildene, Imperatrice and other great mares, always stressed the importance of the mare in the breeding equation.  In terms of the X factor, he may have been ahead of his time.   We owe him, and Secretariat’s daughters such as Weekend Surprise, our heartfelt thanks!

Leeanne Meadows Ladin

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

www.secretariatsmeadow.com

copyright 2011

The Holy Grail on the Secretariat’s Meadow Tour…the Foaling Shed

Visitors are often moved to tears when they see it.  They touch the wooden door reverently.  They walk inside the stall, looking around in quiet awe. They snap photo after photo, not wanting to leave what many consider hallowed ground.

It’s a modest little structure of whitewashed barnboard.  Its appearance could be called “unprepossessing,” to use one of Penny Chenery’s favorite adjectives.  Here on March 30, 1970, shortly after midnight, The Meadow’s magnificent old broodmare, Somethingroyal, gave birth to a colt who would become the king of the sport of kings.

Contrary to what the Disney movie showed,  Secretariat was not born with a big audience in attendance. Penny and her son were not there.  Lucien Laurin was not there.  Eddie Sweat was not there. The only people present were Bob Southworth, the night watchman and Howard Gentry, the farm manager.  Dr. Olive Britt, the beloved Meadow vet,  arrived soon thereafter. 

When the birth was complete, Mr. Gentry exclaimed:  “There’s a whopper!”

“He was born practically standing up,” said Dr. Britt.  We interviewed her for our book shortly before she passed away in 2006.  She would point out what sportswriters would rhapsodize about two years later when the colt set foot on the track…his perfect conformation and how he “filled the eye.”    

“He was beautiful,” she said. “He was well put together, very correct; his legs were perfect.  He had a beautiful head and was as red as fire!”

When Penny first saw Secretariat, she famously said, “He’s too pretty to be any good.”

Secretariat’s foaling shed is the grand finale of our Secretariat’s Meadow Tour.  It is the original structure, carefully restored and preserved by the SFVA which owns The Meadow.  It was located by the old broodmare barn near the Cove, but was moved to the new equine complex across Rt. 30 after the crumbling broodmare barn could not be restored.  It is a fitting location, as this complex was formerly the grounds for Meadow Stable’s training center. The complex bustles with ongoing horse shows and will also be the site of the Museum of the Virginia Horse.

This modest little shed is where a legend began…and for the devoted fans who make their pilgrimage to see it…it’s where the legend lives on! 

The “Secretariat’s Meadow Tours” are sponsored by the SFVA. Private group tours are available for groups of 30 or more at $10 per person.  Tours are also offered to the general public on certain dates.  The next public tour is on September 10, 2011. For more information about the tours, see www.secretariatsmeadow.com  Tours are narrated by Leeanne Meadows Ladin, co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend.”  Proceeds from the tours benefit the future Museum of the Virginia Horse to be built at The Meadow.

Leeanne Meadows Ladin

copyright 2011

Next Stop on the “Secretariat’s Meadow Tour”…the Yearling Barn

                                                               

On our virtual tram tour of The Meadow, you’ve seen The Cove where the broodmares and foals grazed, and the Stallion Barns.    Now we’ll take a look at the Yearling Barn, where both Secretariat and Riva Ridge stayed as colts.

The Yearling Barn originally built by Chris Chenery still stands, and like the Stallion Barns, has been carefully restored by the SFVA, which owns The Meadow.  It is believed that Mr. Chenery built the barns to closely resemble those at nearby Bullfield Farm in Hanover County, the celebrated racing farm of the Doswells.  He had spent a lot of time there as a young, horse-crazy boy, exercising the few remaining racehorses owned by his cousin Bernard Doswell.

The biggest attraction at the Yearling Barn today is the stall where Riva stayed in 1970 and Secretariat in 1971.  Their stall was the one assigned to the most promising colt.  It was close to the storage and break room so there was a lot of traffic going back and forth.  Its location allowed the Meadow grooms to keep a close eye on each special colt.   The colt also became more acclimated  to the bustle of a working barn, something that would be useful when he was later moved to Lucien Laurin’s stables.

As a yearling, Secretariat already stood out from the crowd.  He was both striking in appearance and spirited in his behavior. 

 “He was frisky and already the boss of the herd,” according to Penny. Dr. Olive Britt, the Meadow veterinarian, said that Secretariat was “sharp to be around.  Only the best grooms could handle him.”

 The grooms surely knew that.   One of them commented that to most effectively handle the sometimes mischievous red colt, “You had to cross your mind with his mind.”  

When you visit The Meadow, you will get to hear some untold stories of Secretariat as a young horse, including one that involved him making an unplanned trip beyond the Yearling Barn.

The next tour for the general public will be Saturday September 10.

Visitors look inside Secretariat’s stall at the Yearling Barn. 

 

The “Secretariat’s Meadow Tours” are sponsored by the SFVA. Private group tours are available for groups of 30 or more at $10 per person.  Tours are also offered to the general public on certain dates.   For more information about the tours, see www.secretariatsmeadow.com  Tours are narrated by Leeanne Meadows Ladin, co-author of “Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend.”  Proceeds from the tours benefit the future Museum of the Virginia Horse to be built at The Meadow.

Leeanne Meadows Ladin

copyright 2011

Covert Action, Secretariat’s Grandson, Finds “Greener Pastures”

 

Secretariat’s descendants are helping to keep his legacy alive! As we get closer to Big Red’s birthday on March 30, we’re writing about some of his progeny here in Virginia.  Our last post was about Rainaway, his great grandson who lives at The Meadow in Doswell. 

 This is Covert Action, a Secretariat grandson, who quite generously, has helped us promote our book “Secretariat’s Meadow.” He lives in Goochland County at the James River Correctional Center.  No, he is not serving time. He is serving as  the resident “spokeshorse” for Greener Pastures, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) farm located there. 

This picture was taken during a barn tour last year of Greener Pastures, where I showed Covert Action the book about his grandfather. I’m not sure he grasped the significance of the occasion as he seemed more interested in looking for carrots. 

At Greener Pastures,  inmates and retired racehorses get a second chance at a new life.  The selected inmates care for the horses in a supervised program and can learn a new career suitable for the horse industry. In fact, Covert Action’s groom has now become a professional farrier.

 The horses learn how to transition from the track, or in some cases from unhealthy environments. Many are later adopted out to permanent, caring homes.   Read more about this inspiring program at www.jamesriverhorses.org.

Covert Action certainly had the pedigree to be a racehorse.  Born in 1995, his lineage included  Mr. Prospector, a very successful stallion whose get have won many of the classic races such as the Kentucky Derby. Even more auspicious, the colt’s grandsire on his dam’s side was our mighty Secretariat.  And Secretariat’s daughters have produced outstanding champions such as A.P.Indy, Storm Cat and Smarty Jones.

But Covert Action did not find much action on the racetrack.  He won only three of his 26 races and earned only $22,000 during his career.  Instead he found another calling, thanks to the  TRF and its dedicated volunteers. He also found a forever home. 

Kate Tweedy and I teamed up with him and TRF again at another book event at a Southern States store.  I believe he would have preferred to chew on our giant book poster but he was far too well-mannered for that! 

Covert Action and  his “cousin” Rainaway,  will be  on hand for “meet and greet” at the Secretariat birthday celebration at The Meadow on March 27.  

Surely Big Red would be glad that two of his descendants have found greener pastures in his home state of Virginia!

By Leeanne Meadows Ladin

copyright 2011

Rainaway, The Mascot of The Meadow

March may come in like a lion but it’s going to go out like a Thoroughbred!

In honor of Big Red’s birthday (March 30) and the  celebration at The Meadow (March 27)  we will be posting stories about his birthplace and his descendants all month.

We’ll start with a descendant who actually lives at The Meadow…a great-grandson named Rainaway.

The chestnut gelding, born in 1994, was sired by Summer Squall, winner of the 1990 Preakness. Summer Squall’s dam was the very successful broodmare Weekend Surprise, a daughter of Secretariat.  Rainaway earned over $90,000 during his racing career before retiring at the age of six in 2000.

Somehow he ended up on a farm in Blountville, Tennessee on the verge of starvation with several other hapless horses.  In 2007, the farm’s owner was arrested for animal cruelty and the rescue organization, Horse Haven of Tennessee, mercifully took over the care of Rainaway and his stablemates.

HHT nursed  the emaciated horse back to health. He gained weight  and his dull coat regained its bright chestnut shine.  That he could recover from such unconscionable neglect speaks to the stamina inherent in his famous genes, as well to  the excellent care he received from his rescuers.

HHT found him a new home as the “mascot” of The Meadow, the birthplace of his great-grandsire in Doswell, Virginia. In September 2008, Rainaway made his first appearance at the State Fair of Virginia, which owns The Meadow.  He lived at a nearby farm while the State Fair completed its move from the old fairgrounds in Richmond to the rolling green fields of Caroline County. By 2009, Rainaway was settled in at The Meadow,  free to gallop in his spacious paddock and play with his beloved companion goats.

Today he continues to greet visitors at the annual State Fair and events such as the Equine Extravaganza and now Secretariat’s birthday party.  Rainaway will also be available to make an appearance during  the customized group tours now offered at The Meadow. 

From his paddock,   Rainaway has a panoramic view of The Meadow and the historic land where a bold young chestnut stallion once galloped.   Surely Rainaway can see that he’s home.

Our next post will be about Secretariat’s grandson Covert Action, who lives in nearby Goochland County.  Both he and Rainaway will be at the birthday party  on March 27.

Leeanne Meadows Ladin

copyright 2011