The birthplace of Secretariat at The Meadow Event Park is now the site of a rare memorabilia collection from the early days of Meadow Stable.
Penny Chenery, whose father Christopher T. Chenery founded the racing stable in 1936, recently donated several items from her family’s personal collection. They are on permanent loan for the Secretariat tourism program at The Meadow, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
“Since 2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of Meadow Stable, this seemed the right time to let these special pieces return to the farm so the public can enjoy seeing them,” Chenery said. Revered as the “First Lady of Racing,” Chenery owned and raced Secretariat, whose records in his historic 1973 Triple Crown sweep have never been broken.
The Chenery Collection includes:
- The Black Riding Boots of Christopher Chenery, the visionary founder of Meadow Stable.
- The complete foxhunting attire worn by Christopher Chenery when he rode with the Deep Run Hunt Club.
- The starter bell from Meadow Training Center. The clang of this bell taught Secretariat and other Meadow Stable champions to leap from the starting gate.
- Hill Prince 1950 Horse of the Year plaque. Hill Prince was Meadow Stable’s first big champion, winning the 1950 Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup and over $422,000 in his racing career.
- Christopher T. Chenery 1950 Breeder of the Year plaque, which recognized Chenery for breeding Hill Prince, 1950 Horse of the Year.
- Riva Ridge 1972 horseshoe plaque. Riva Ridge was the first Meadow Stable horse to win the Kentucky Derby and also won the Belmont Stakes in 1972.
- Hildene Virginia 1992 Equine Hall of Fame plaque, presented by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association in honor of Hildene, Christopher Chenery’s first great broodmare.
- Saddle blankets—brightly striped, woolen blankets which belonged to Christopher Chenery.
The Secretariat tourism program at The Meadow also has acquired:
- The 1973 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder, the year Secretariat won the Triple Crown. The prestigious Eclipse Awards are the Thoroughbred world equivalent of the Oscars.
- A set of gold and blue enamel Triple Crown cufflinks owned by Howard Gentry, the farm manager of Meadow Stable from 1946 to 1976.
- Framed photos of champion racehorses First Landing and Cicada.
Those items were presented to the Secretariat tourism program by John and Martha Welch, who is Gentry’s niece.
The new Chenery Collection will be on display for visitors who take the “Hoofprints of History” tours at The Meadow. The tours also include the historic barns and grounds where Secretariat was born, raised and trained. Leeanne Ladin, who co-wrote Secretariat’s Meadow—The Land, The Family, The Legend, serves as narrator. For more information, visit MeadowEventPark.com.