The birthplace of Secretariat at Meadow Event Park in Virginia will now be a showcase for a collection of rare memorabilia from the early days of Meadow Stable.
Penny Chenery, whose father Christopher T. Chenery founded the racing stable in 1936, recently sent several items to The Meadow from her family's personal collection. They are on loan specifically for the Secretariat tourism program.
“Since 2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of Meadow Stable, this seemed the right time to let these special pieces return to the farm so the public can enjoy seeing them,” Ms. Chenery said. Revered as the “First Lady of Racing,” Ms. Chenery owned and raced Secretariat, whose track records in his historic 1973 Triple Crown have never been broken.
The Chenery Collection includes:
- The Black Riding Boots of Christopher T. Chenery – Known as a “bold rider who went bold places,” the visionary founder of Meadow Stable was a superb horseman. An accompanying photo in the exhibit shows him mounted on one of his favorite horses and wearing the boots.
- The complete foxhunting attire worn by Mr. Chenery when he rode to hounds with the Deep Run Hunt Club.
- The Starter's Bell from Meadow Training Center – The clang of this bell taught Secretariat, Riva Ridge and other Meadow Stable champions to leap from the starting gate at the farm's mile-long training track.
- Hill Prince Horse of the Year 1950 Plaque – Hill Prince was Meadow Stable's first big champion, winning the 1950 Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup and over $422,000 in his racing career.
- Christopher T. Chenery Breeder of the Year 1950 Plaque – presented by the New York Turf Writers' Association. This recognized Mr. Chenery for breeding Hill Prince, 1950 Horse of the Year.
- Riva Ridge Horseshoe 1972 Plaque – Riva Ridge was the first Meadow Stable horse to win the Kentucky Derby, a lifelong dream of Mr. Chenery. Riva also won the Belmont Stakes in 1972.
- Hildene Virginia Equine Hall of Fame 1992 Plaque – This was presented by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association in honor of Hildene, Mr. Chenery's first great broodmare.
- Saddle Blankets – These brightly striped woolen blankets belonged to Mr. Chenery, who used them with his personal riding horses.
“We are extremely grateful to Penny and her family for allowing us to have these one of a kind items for exclusive display here at Secretariat's birthplace,” said Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at Meadow Event Park. “This new exhibit brings the history of Meadow Stable alive in a very engaging way and will be a must-see for Secretariat fans everywhere.”
The Secretariat tourism program at The Meadow has also acquired:
- The Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder of 1973, the year Secretariat won the Triple Crown.
- A set of gold and blue enamel Triple Crown cufflinks owned by Howard Gentry, the farm manager of Meadow Stable from 1946-1976.
- Framed photos of champion racehorses First Landing and Cicada.
Those items, also on exclusive display at The Meadow, were presented to the Secretariat tourism program by John and Martha Welch. Mrs. Welch is the niece of Howard Gentry.
The Meadow Stable memorabilia will be a key highlight for visitors who take the “Hoofprints of History” tours at Meadow Event Park. The tours also include the historic barns and grounds where Secretariat was born, raised and first trained. Author/historian Ladin, who co-wrote “Secretariat's Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend,” serves as narrator. Tours are available year-round by reservation. The Meadow is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
For more information on the “Hoofprints of History” tours, see MeadowEventPark.com.
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