Colonial Downs Group announced plans to name its turf course for 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. A name synonymous with the sport of Thoroughbred racing, Secretariat was born at Meadow Stable in Doswell, Va., in 1970. He became a national hero in his historic 1973 Triple Crown campaign that set records in each of the classic races, culminating with a performance for the ages when he won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths.
Secretariat’s Virginia roots trace back to the 1930s when Christopher Chenery established a breeding and racing operation at the Meadow, a farm that had been in his family since colonial days. In the late 1960s, Chenery’s daughter Penny, took the management reins at the farm and earned the informal title of the “First Lady of Racing” for her popularity with fans during the Triple Crown campaigns of Riva Ridge in 1972 and that of Secretariat one year later.
The Secretariat Turf Course will be ready when Colonial Downs opens for live racing Aug. 8. The collaboration is part of a licensing agreement with the Tweedy family and Secretariat.com that also will feature an annual Secretariat Day at the racetrack as well as equine welfare fund-raising and other promotional opportunities, including festivities planned for Virginia Derby Day on Aug. 31.
“Colonial Downs is thrilled to partner with the Tweedy family and spotlight one of Virginia racing’s brightest stars, who was foaled less than 50 miles from our own gates,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing operations. “Secretariat’s enduring legacy continues to reverberate with new generations of fans, and it is only fitting that Colonial Downs recognizes this native son of the Commonwealth.”
“My family and I are excited that live racing has returned to Virginia and that we can contribute by sharing the legacy of Secretariat.” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery. “The Secretariat Turf Course will no doubt witness great racing contests, something my mother and my grandfather would have especially loved to see. Our family also applauds Colonial Downs for their efforts to engage existing horse lovers and generate new racing fans.”
Tweedy is co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow, which celebrates Virginia’s racing history and the Meadow’s history of producing champions.