The life of Penny Chenery: The prominent woman in horse racing who owned 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat

 

It has been over 50 years since Secretariat became a Triple Crown winner, yet with every horse race season, he continues to be talked about.

It’s no wonder because the horse holds the fastest times for all three Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, to this day. 

Another name that is often heard is Penny Chenery, the owner of the record-breaking racehorse. Chenery was able to save her father’s farm when it was on the brink of collapse. That ended up being the birthplace of the racehorse that is still beloved today. 

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Below is a deeper look into Chenery’s life as the owner of the historic racehorse.

Who was the owner of Secretariat?What farm did Penny Chenery own?How much money did Penny Chenery make from Secretariat?

1. Who was the owner of Secretariat?

Chenery was the owner of the racehorse widely known as the best of all time: Secretariat. 

The racehorse, also known as Big Red, was an American thoroughbred that often dominated the competition on the track. 

He and his jockey, Ron Turcotte, won the Kentucky Derby in 1973. The duo then went on to win the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The Triple Crown winner set records in all three races. To this day, no other horse has been able to beat Secretariat’s times in the Triple Crown races.

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Chenery lived a long life. She died on Sept. 16, 2017, when she was 95 years old.

2. What farm did Penny Chenery own?

Chenery was the owner of Meadow Stable, now called Meadow Event Park, in Virginia, where Secretariat was born.

Chenery started to take over the farm when her father began to fall ill in 1968, according to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. When she took over, she was able to save the financially struggling farm from being sold. Chenery was the one who arranged Secretariat’s breeding, according to the source.

Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970, a year after Riva Ridge, a horse also bred at Meadow Stable, won two Triple Crown races a year before Big Red. Secretariat became the first Triple Crown winner since Citation, who won in 1948.

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Through her long life, Chenery continued to be involved in horse racing long after Secretariat’s reign. She became the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

She was also one of the founders of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. 

Chenery’s life and Secretariat’s were the inspiration for the 2010 Disney movie named after the famous racehorse. In the movie, Diane Lane appeared as Chenery.

3. How much money did Penny Chenery make from Secretariat?

Secretariat was syndicated in 1973 for a record $6.08 million. The horse was syndicated by 23-year-old Seth Hancock of Claiborne Farm.

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Chenery’s father, Chris, died in 1973, as Secretariat was preparing for what would make him a legendary racehorse.

Chenery getting Secretariat syndicated was a way to keep the farm afloat when a tax bill arrived, according to History.com.

Secretariat was syndicated before his horse racing debut in 1973 but proved to be worth the high price fronted by Hancock.