American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, is basking in the national media spotlight, and deservedly so. Rising to meet every challenge of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, he is now only the 12th horse since 1919 to claim racing’s most elusive prize. As icing on the cake, he is a great-great-great grandson of Secretariat, still hailed as the greatest Triple Crown champion of all.
Throughout the Belmont coverage, sportscasters paid homage to Secretariat’s legendary achievement of breaking all three track records. Once again, TV viewers relived the astonishing sight of the great red stallion surging “like a tremendous machine” across the finish line at the Belmont, 31 lengths ahead of the competition. Secretariat gifted the world that day with a stunning example of pure athletic perfection, reveling in his own power with a fluid 25-foot stride and an enormous champion’s heart.
Owner Penny Chenery has said Secretariat “ran for the joy of it, and he just wanted to show the world what he could do.” And the world has never forgotten.
At The Meadow Event Park, the site of Secretariat’s 1970 birth in Caroline County, American Pharoah’s wins have sparked more requests for tours.
“People have told me that watching the Triple Crown made them think of Secretariat, and they wanted to come see where he was born,” said Leeanne Meadows Ladin, The Meadow’s Secretariat tourism manager and author of Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend. Ladin noted that at least half the visitors to Secretariat’s birthplace are from out of state, with fans recently coming from California, Michigan and even Canada.
“But of course we’d like for Virginians to realize what is in their own backyard, especially since Secretariat’s birthplace is now a Virginia Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Ladin said.
Highlights of The Meadow’s Hoofprints of History Tour include the foaling shed where Secretariat was born; the training barn where he first wore a saddle and bridle; the yearling barn where he stayed as a colt; a stallion barn; the Meadow Champion Galleries and Triple Crown Room in Meadow Hall; and book signings in the gift shop. Ladin also shares behind-the-scenes stories of Secretariat’s escapades as a mischievous colt and the making of the Disney movie about him. Tours are available year-round by appointment. For more information, visit MeadowEventPark.com.