On March 30, 1970, a legend was born. A fiery red colt named Secretariat took his first breath in a foaling shed at Christopher Chenery’s Meadow Stable in Caroline County, Virginia. In 1973, he left the world breathless with his spectacular and incomparable Triple Crown. Those three track records remain unbroken, and his bloodlines still live on today in many of racing’s most successful Thoroughbreds.
On March 28, 2020, Secretariat’s birthplace, now known as The Meadow Event Park, will be the epicenter of the official celebration honoring the immortal champion’s 50th birthday and his enduring legacy. Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of the late beloved Penny Chenery, will headline the all-day event with acclaimed racing journalist Steve Haskin, along with Steve Jordan, assistant to Secretariat’s trainer Lucien Laurin. Joining them will be jockey and actor Otto Thorwarth, who played Ron Turcotte in Disney’s “Secretariat.”
The festivities kick off with family fun time from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a half-day ticket at $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Highlights include:
- A free commemorative Secretariat 50th birthday gift to the first 250 attendees, courtesy of celebration sponsor Colonial Downs racetrack, home of the Secretariat Turf Course
- Autograph sessions with Tweedy, Haskin, Jordan, Thorwarth, and other special guests
- A special exhibit of spectacular Secretariat paintings by renowned contemporary American Impressionist Lisa Palombo, whose art has been featured on over 40 book covers and national magazines
- A one-day only exclusive exhibit of the Penny Chenery Room featuring some of her designer jackets, her mother’s oil portrait and other family heirlooms
- Visits with Groundshaker, great-great-granddaughter of Secretariat, and Mia, the “Mighty Mini of The Meadow”
- A display of the original training saddles worn by Secretariat and Riva Ridge
- A kiddie corral with “horsey” activities for kids
- Tours of the Meadow Hall galleries and the historic barns
- A silent auction, birthday cake, food concessions, and much more
The full-day ticket includes all of the above, plus a special evening program from 4 to 8 p.m. It will feature a cocktail reception in Meadow Hall mansion with live jazz; a trio of custom-designed Secretariat birthday cakes created by nationally acclaimed Virginia baker Amanda Richardson, who has been featured on The Food Network; a special memorial tribute to members of the Meadow Stable team; a silent and live auction of rare Secretariat items; and a champagne toast at Secretariat’s foaling shed.
A major highlight of the evening program will be the interactive panel discussion “Disney’s ‘Secretariat’: Fact and Fiction” with Kate Chenery Tweedy, Steve Haskin, and Otto Thorwarth. Guests will get an insider’s perspective of the differences between the silver screen portrayal and the actual events.
The full-day ticket price is $70 per person and includes a commemorative Secretariat champagne glass.
The Secretariat 50th Birthday Celebration is presented by the Secretariat Birthplace Tours of The Meadow Event Park and Secretariat.com. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Secretariat Heritage Center Barn Restoration Fund. In addition to Colonial Downs racetrack, event sponsors include the Caroline County Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, and Hometown Realty of Ashland.
Fans should also mark their calendars for Secretariat birthday festivities in Christopher Chenery's nearby hometown of Ashland, Va., during the weekend. On Friday night, March 27, there will be a welcome reception from 5 to 7 pm. at the Iron Horse Restaurant. On Sunday, March 29, there will be a Big Red Breakfast with Kate Tweedy at Hanover Tavern, followed by a tour of Ashland and a visit to Penny Chenery’s grave at Woodland Cemetery.
Important Ticket Info:
Tickets to the Secretariat 50th Birthday Celebration at The Meadow Event Park on March 28 may be purchased at https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/16111/secretariat-birthday-celebration
Tickets for the welcome reception on March 27 and the breakfast and Chenery tour on March 29 may be purchased at www.secretariat.com.
For general information about the celebration, see www.meadoweventpark.com/visit-us/secretariat50.
For a list of hotels in the Ashland/Doswell area, see https://www.meadoweventpark.com/visit-us/#hotels.