If you’re a big fan of “Big Red,” you won’t want to miss any of the special Secretariat birthday celebration events during this year’s Virginia Horse Festival, March 23-25 at The Meadow Event Park.
New this year is a Triple Crown Tribute reception and program. Guests can commemorate the 45thanniversary of Secretariat’s historic Triple Crown, in which he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Special guests include author Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of the late Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner; sports journalist Steve Haskin; and former Meadow Stable grooms.
“Since the Triple Crown was established in 1919, only 12 horses have won all three of those races. Of those 12 horses, only Virginia-born Secretariat broke all three track records, which still stand today,” said Leeanne Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park.
Tickets to the event, which will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March, 24, are $45. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Meadow’s Historic Barn Restoration Fund. Ticket purchasers must be 21 or older, and the deadline to buy tickets is March 20.
Groundshaker, a great-great-granddaughter of Secretariat and the star of The Meadow’s Secretariat Birthplace Tours, will be holding court in a paddock near the historic yearling barn. The retired racing Thoroughbred will be joined by Mia the miniature horse, who will be decked out like a little Big Red.
Secretariat fans also can enjoy celebrity appearances and autograph signings by the Secretariat racing team and shop for official Secretariat merchandise in the Farm Bureau Center.
Among other events celebrating Secretariat throughout the weekend are VIP tram tours of the champion’s birthplace. There will be one-hour tram tours offered at 1:30 and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $20 per person. During the tours, guests can take a journey back to the heyday of Meadow Stable and enjoy exclusive, behind-the-scenes stories from Tweedy, Haskin and other special guests. Tour stops include Secretariat’s foaling shed, training barn, yearling barn and stallion barn.
Festival-goers also can take guided tours of Meadow Hall with its Meadow Champion Galleries and Triple Crown Room and the Chenery Collection of rare Meadow Stable memorabilia. The tours are $5 per person and will be held at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, March 23; at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. on Saturday; and at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
All Secretariat events require Virginia Horse Festival general admission. For more information visit VirginiaHorseFestival.com.