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Secretariat owner had affair with trainer during Triple Crown run

Penny Chenery...owner of Secretariat shown with trainer Lucien Laurin.
Anonymous/AP

Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, revealed in a new film that she had a romantic affair with trainer Lucien Laurin during the superhorse's Triple Crown run, according to an article in the Lexington Herald Leader. Ms. Chenery made the disclosure during a film produced by her son John Tweedy regarding the 1973 run by Secretariat into the record books.

Ms. Chenery, who is now 91, said in the film she is at a point in life where she is not concerned about what people think. She decided fans of Secretariat deserved to hear the entire story.

She explained that her marriage to husband John Tweety was already on the rocks at the time of the fling with Laurin. She opined she was at the epicenter of the huge news story regarding Secretariat making history, and she had no one to confide in. Laurin, the horse's trainer, was in the same cauldron of stress from high expectations for Big Red at the time.

Upon hearing the news, Secretariat's biographer William Nack said he had not heard about the affair when he wrote his book about that historic run. Both Chenery and Laurin were married at the time.

Nack said had he known, he would have asked Penny Chenery about during his interview with her for the book.

"It would have been the last question I asked her at the end of the interview," the writer said recently.

Nack said he understands though how two people can develop a bond when they are placed into a high pressure situation together. Chenery said the affair only lasted during Secretariat's 1973 Triple Crown run. She was divorced at the end of the year.

She also disclosed in her son's film that after the affair burned out that she and Laurin remained good friends, but that was all.

A previous Disney movie entitled "Secretariat" was made in which Diane Lane played the role of Penny Chenery and John Malkovich played Lucien Laurin. But that movie came out before Ms. Chenry made her revelations and of course made no reference to the matter. The Disney movie was viewed in 2010.

With California Chrome making his run for a Triple Crown this year, it is only natural Secretariat and his people would once again return to the headlines.

When asked about her role in the Disney movie, she replied, "Well obviously someone had to star in the movie. The horse couldn't talk."

Secretariat died in 1989 at the age of 19. Laurin passed away in 2000 at the age of 88.

Chenery said the name of her son's film is "Penny and Red: The Life of Secretariat's Owner". It premiered at Fasige Tipton Sales Pavilion in Lexington, Kentucky to kick off the annual Secretariat Festival in Paris in 2013.

"It may spoil my image. I don't know and I don't care at this point," the famous owner said.

She further disclosed the affair actually ended when Secretariat was released to Claiborne Farms in Paris to stand as a stallion following his unparallelled career.

Secretariat broke the record for fastest times ever recorded in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont in 1973. Those records all still stand today which is why many consider him the greatest thoroughbred racehorse in history. California Chrome won last Saturday's Preakness and is in line to also win the Triple Crown.

The supporters of California Chrome will be satisfied with a Triple Crown. They probably realize breaking Secretariat's Belmont record is not likely. Secretariat won the Belmont by a record 31 or more lengths depending on who one talks to. The other horses were so far behind they looked like miniatures in the distance.

For her part, Penny Chenry remains as one of the most famous owners in history. She may also be one of the best as she won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont with Riva Ridge in 1972. She returned home to Meadows Stables to save the family business after her father died.

She reportedly was the first owner to freely talk to the news media. One journalist said, "Before Penny Chenery, you didn't talk to the owners. They wouldn't talk to you."

Little did anyone realize that when she won Secretariat in a coin flip, she would make history by guiding the destiny of the greatest horse in history.

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