For the fall tourist who likes to discover hidden treasures, there is a gem only 30 minutes from Richmond. It’s the birthplace of Secretariat at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, about 2 miles from Interstate 95 at Exit 98.
The legendary Triple Crown champion was born, raised and first trained at what was Meadow Stable, founded in 1936 by Christopher T. Chenery. Today, the popular Hoofprints of History Tour showcases Secretariat’s foaling shed, where he was born March 30, 1970; the pasture where he played as a baby; the yearling, stallion and training barns; and the horse cemetery where early Meadow Stable greats are buried. Inside stately Meadow Hall are the Meadow Champions Galleries, Triple Crown Room and a gift shop.
The tour recently added new elements, including a giant LOVEwork installation that’s part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation LOVEworks program. Recycled Meadow fence posts spell out LOVE and are painted in Meadow Stable’s signature blue and white. Fence posts also were used to make markers that illustrate Secretariat’s 25-foot racing stride. A new life-size poster of the horse himself invites “Selfies with Secretariat.” Additionally, Secretariat’s yearling stall now boasts a bronze plaque that recognizes the farm’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register.
Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager and co-author of the award-winning Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend, conducts the Hoofprints of History Tours. She shares exclusive behind-the-scenes stories about Meadow Stable and the history of the farm that dates to 1805, and she describes how Secretariat’s incomparable legacy lives on today.
“Virginians have a national treasure right in their own backyard,” Ladin said. “We invite horse lovers, history lovers, families and groups large or small to come visit Secretariat’s birthplace at The Meadow.”
The tours are on a brief hiatus during the State Fair of Virginia but will resume after Oct. 4 and continue into late fall. All tours are by appointment and typically are offered Tuesdaythrough Sunday. Availability depends on the schedule of other events at The Meadow.
Tram tours can be arranged for groups of 15 or more. The average tour takes about 90 minutes. The cost is $10 per adult and $5 per child.