After over 40 years, he still has fans. People who were not even born during his career love him. The name “Secretariat” no longer refers to a clerical staff or department, but a racehorse legend that set records never beaten. A new book detailing his life, and his world, is now available.
Leeanne Meadows Ladin of Commonwealth Fairs and Events of Virginia is co-author of Secretariats Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend. Kate Chenery-Tweedy, daughter of Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, co-authored the book. Wayne Dementi published the book and lent his photography talents. It is a lush, beautiful text that will appeal to horse lovers, racing fans, history buffs, and more. “I couldn’t stop reading it,” horse fan and former Tennessee Walker competitor Mary Gardner of Nashville said. “The pictures are amazing.”
Leeanne Meadows Ladin is smiling, kind, and seems to possess boundless energy. She explained, “There have been many books written about Secretariat, but I feel this is the ultimate.” She loved “the research to cover more stories, learning about events on the farm no one has ever printed before.” For example, “Big Red” nearly drowned before he was old enough to run! Ladin also treasures “meeting the gentlemen who took care of Secretariat every day. And meeting Penny and getting to know her team was amazing.”
Kate Chenery-Tweedy has an infectious laugh and enjoys life to the fullest. She proudly admits to being the rebel and strong-willed girl portrayed in the Disney movie “Secretariat.” The movie was part fiction, she says, but the book she co-authored is 100% accurate.
Wayne Dementi agreed. “It was such an honor to work on Secretariat’s story. I grew up watching him on T.V. For a lifelong fan to be a part of the story, on his journey, is just – I loved it.” Dementi is gregarious, easy to approach, and easier to get to talk about the horse that not only won the Triple Crown, but also broke records. Of the 11 Triple Crown winners since 1919, only Secretariat broke all three track records. Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby was 1:59 2/5; his Preakness 1:53, and his Belmont was 2:24.
The 12” x 9” book boasts over 150 thick, glossy pages of over three years of research and writing. The detailed chapters include a thorough history of “The Meadows,” a historiography of the Chenery family and their horse racing dynasty, the people who surrounded Secretariat (from grooms to racing moguls), rare photographs, famous images, and details that make the book cozy, entertaining, and educational. You will meet the pony that “begrudgingly taught the Chenery grandchildren to ride,” Riva Ridge, “the horse that saved The Meadows,” and the exercise rider who said, “We’ve got something great” when he met Secretariat; the colt was two days old.
Secretariats Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend reads a bit like a novel, and a bit like you are having a casual, laughter-filled lunch with the Chenerys as they tell you about their lives. Travel back to the days when long-limbed colts frolicked at The Meadows, under a Robin egg - blue sky, and gentle breezes ruffled the manes of champions munching sweet Virginia grass. Then take a box seat at Belmont and cheer as “Big Red” runs a phenomenal race that jockey Ron Turcotte called, “the greatest thrill of my life.” Stand under elm trees that were on the farm in 1936 and enjoy a 2007 reunion of The Meadows employees. When you finally close this book, you will be closing a door to a very special world.
Order your copy HERE
The people behind the race horse HERE
Photo of J. Yates courtesy R. Stephens