The 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s historical Triple Crown run is upon us this year and celebrations will take place locally and at big race events around the country, all recognizing those magical, record setting wins in the 1973 Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
Racing fans in Virginia got an update February 20 on plans to celebrate those historic accomplishments and hear from sculptor Jocelyn Russell, who was commissioned to design a life size monument of Secretariat winning the Belmont Stakes with Ron Turcotte in the irons. A fundraising campaign officially kicked off to help ensure that Ashland, Virginia will be home to the statue.
Kate Chenery Tweedy (shown here with author Wayne Dementi) announced fundraising efforts to bring a life size statue of “Big Red” to Ashland —- to be based at the end of Randolph Macon College’s campus near the CSX train tracks —- have officially begun.
Renowned artist Jocelyn Russell (right, shown here with Business Manager Robin Hutton on the left), is the architect and genius behind the 21 foot long, 11.5 feet tall bronze monument that if all goes well, will find its home base soon in the Commonwealth. Russell’s only other “Racing Into History” Secretariat statue is in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jocelyn Russell’s masterpiece is complete and based at a foundry in Norman, Oklahoma where it is waiting to be trailered to big events around the country this year. Stay tuned for exciting announcements about the 50-year celebration!
A tabletop model of the actual “Secretariat – Racing Into History 2/2” bronze monument was on display at Tweedy’s update event February 20 at Randolph Macon College. This would be the first and only monument of Secretariat in his home state where he was born, raised and first trained.
Tweedy mentioned the rich equine history of Ashland, VA that continues today with both Eagle Point Farm & Horseshoe Hill Farm. Donna Dennehy and Karen Godsey of Eagle Point are pictured with Jill Byrne, Virginia Equine Alliance VP of Strategic Planning.
Larry Tillman and Alvin Mines were grooms at Meadow Farm in Doswell during the era when Secretariat was bred and raised. The two were recognized by Tweedy at the February 20 event.
Ashland will reap long term tourism benefits from Secretariat’s location on the college campus and his loyal fan base, who will come from near and far to pay homage to their hero.
“Virginia’s horse was a complete package,” said Tweedy as part of her presentation at Randolph Macon College. “Secretariat was a champion in all senses. He had the beauty, the strength, the coordination, the brain, the personality and the drive. He had almost a supernatural quality about him that we may never see the likes of again. It’s almost like recognizing Shakespeare or Mozart,” she continued. “He’s at that level, at the top of the heap.”
Robin Hutton, Jocelyn Russell and Kate Chenery Tweedy are engrossed in a video featuring Secretariat’s crowning achievements.
About 100 Secretariat fans and dignitaries attended the event at Randolph Macon University. A SECVA (Secretariat Virginia) civic group has been formed and includes Penny Chenery Tweedy, Leeanne Meadows Ladin and Wayne Dementi among others. SECVA is helping to coordinate fund-raising, publicity and community engagement.
Secretariat’s annual birthday celebration will take place April 1 in Ashland. More details will be announced in the coming days.
Kate Chenery Tweedy welcomed guests at the event. Her grandfather, Christopher Chenery, grew up in Ashland, attended Randolph Macon College, and in 1936 founded Meadow Stable in nearby Caroline County where Secretariat was born in 1970. Ms. Tweedy’s mother, Penny Chenery, later managed Meadow Stable and Secretariat’s spectacular career.