Festival will mark Derby Day with focus on Meadow Stable’s two Derby winners

horse racing

Credit: Daren Whitaker

Millions of people remember Secretariat’s thrilling 1973 Triple Crown Victory, which started with his record-breaking Kentucky Derby win. Not everyone knows that Secretariat’s older stablemate, Riva Ridge, was the first Meadow Stable horse to win the Derby.

Riva’s win on May 6, 1972, fulfilled a lifelong dream of stable founder Christopher Chenery and catapulted his daughter Penny Chenery into the national spotlight.

Not many racing stables have produced back-to-back Kentucky Derby winners, which is why the Virginia Horse Festival will include special Derby Day events on May 4. Kate Chenery Tweedy, Penny Chenery’s daughter, will host the festivities.

“Despite winning the Derby and the Belmont, Riva was always overshadowed by Secretariat. Our Derby party here at the farm where he was raised and trained will give Riva some long-overdue attention,” Tweedy said. She noted that this year also is the 50th anniversary of Riva Ridge’s birth at the Caroline County farm.

The festival will run May 3-5 at The Meadow Event Park.

The Derby Day party will feature Meadow Mint Julep Tram Tours around the historic barns; visits with Groundshaker, a great-great granddaughter of Secretariat; live music and a Derby hat contest; tours of the Meadow Champion Galleries, Triple Crown Room and the Chenery Collection in Meadow Hall; large- screen TVs to watch the race coverage; and a cocktail buffet of Derby fare with a Virginia flair.

Tweedy also will premiere a film, Remembering Riva Ridge, produced by her brother John Tweedy.

The Derby Day party will take place from 4-7 p.m. Tickets are $50, and complete festival and ticket information is available at VirginiaHorseFestival.com.

Festival-goers may visit the Secretariat booth in the exhibit hall and take tram tours throughout the three-day event.

The festival will host a wide variety of equine clinics, demonstrations and competitions. The JTO Trail Challenge will be open to competitors from across the state. Participants in this trail obstacle course will compete on Friday and Saturday, and the finale will be held Sunday.

Entertainment this year includes the Aurora equestrian circus of Legacy Family Entertainment. The three daily performances will feature trick riding, singers, dancers, comedy and aerialists. Featured entertainment also includes the Canine Stars, an international show featuring rescue dogs that perform agility demonstrations, disc tricks and freestyle dancing and will give three performances each day.

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