Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, Dies at 95
Penny Chenery, owner of the legendary Thoroughbred racehorse, Secretariat, perhaps the fastest horse in racing history, passed away on September 16, 2017, at the age of 95.
Chenery took over her father’s Meadow Stable in Virginia with little horse racing knowledge, and educated herself with advice from industry mentors and by studying Thoroughbred publications. She acquired Secretariat after losing a coin toss with another stable as to who would have first choice of foals from two of her farm’s mares. She went on to become one of the few prominent women in horse racing.
Chenery developed a special bond with the big red stallion who, as a three-year-old in 1973, won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, setting a track record in the Belmont that still stands today. His stunning Belmont victory by 31 lengths made him a national celebrity. It was the first Triple Crown sweep since Citation in 1948.
Secretariat winning the Belmont Stakes in 1973.
In 2006, Chenery was awarded the highest honour in Thoroughbred racing, the Eclipse Award of Merit.
The story of Chenery and Secretariat was memorialized in the 2010 Disney film Secretariat with Diane Lane portraying Ms. Chenery, who herself appeared in the film as a race spectator in the grandstand.
“If anyone ever deserved the title ‘First Lady of American Racing,’ it was Penny Chenery” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack.
With files from NYTimes.com, ChurchillDowns.com
Main blog photo: Penny Chenery at the world premiere of the movie Secretariat in 2010. Photo: Shutterstock/FeatureFlash