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Secretariat birthday fete also marks Triple Crown

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

DOSWELL – Commonwealth Fairs & Events (CF&E) of Virginia and of Louisville, Kentucky are planning another birthday celebration for Secretariat at Meadow Event Park, where the history-making thoroughbred was born.

This year’s event will be even more special. The celebration also will mark the kickoff of the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s historic Triple Crown of 1973. Secretariat’s remarkable performances in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes remain the benchmark for the sport of racing, and his record times in each of three jewels in the crown still exist today

“Commonwealth Fairs and Events and the Virginia Farm Bureau are very excited about partnering with the Secretariat team to present the Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow,” said Jeff Dillon, president of the State Fair of Virginia.

“We Virginians feel enormous pride in Secretariat, who was born and raised here and became ‘America’s Super Horse.’ This important event, the first of more to come, demonstrates our sincere commitment to preserving and enhancing The Meadow’s singular heritage as the birthplace of Secretariat. Together with, we can offer the legions of Secretariat fans a richly memorable experience during this milestone anniversary year.”

Meadow Event Park is owned by Commonwealth Fairs & Events and the Virginia Farm Bureau and is also the site of the State Fair of Virginia.

The major highlight of the event will be the return of Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner, to the birthplace of her legendary stallion.  Revered as the “First Lady of Racing,” Chenery is slated to be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs.  She was portrayed by noted actress Diane Lane in the Disney movie “Secretariat” and even had a cameo role in the film, which has created a whole new generation of fans.

Hall of Fame jockey, Ron Turcotte, who rode “Big Red” to his Triple Crown victory, is expected to join Chenery at the birthday celebration as well as Charlie Davis, Secretariat’s exercise rider.

“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,” said Chenery. “Virginia holds such fond memories for me and I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.”

The former grooms and exercise riders who worked with the young Secretariat and his stable mate, Riva Ridge (winner of the 1972 Derby and Belmont), will be on hand to share their experiences.

Penny’s daughter, Kate Chenery Tweedy, will sign copies of the award-winning “Secretariat’s  Meadow  – The Land, The Family, The Legend,” and “Riva Ridge – Penny’s First Champion,” both of which she co-authored with Leeanne Meadows Ladin.

The Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow will begin March 29 with a “Winner’s Circle” reception that evening.  This will be followed by a public showing of the Disney film “Secretariat,” after which Chenery, Turcotte and other special guests will participate in a panel discussion.

An all–day program is in store for March 30, including autograph sessions; sale of official Secretariat merchandise; narrated tram tours of the farm featuring historic barns and Secretariat’s original foaling shed; meeting local Secretariat descendants; and a “Taste of Virginia” showcase. Many other activities for fans and families will be announced soon.

A portion of the proceeds from the Secretariat Birthday Celebration will go toward the preservation of the historic barns at The Meadow.

Ticket information for the March 29 reception and film screening and the March 30 birthday festivities is available on the website,