Secretariat, in the form of a 3,500-pound bronze monument, is racing to his home state of Virginia to kick off the national 50TH anniversary celebration of his immortal Triple Crown of 1973. The “Secretariat Racing Into History” monument by renowned equine artist Jocelyn Russell is traveling over 1,000 miles from the foundry in Oklahoma to the historic town of Ashland, Virginia. At 21 feet long and 11.5 feet tall, this is the largest monument of Secretariat in existence, dramatically illustrating the Virginia-born champion’s larger-than-life presence as an equine athlete and American icon. On April 1, the heroically proportioned artwork will be formally unveiled as the centerpiece of the anniversary celebration.
Ashland has the honor of being the first venue of the multi-state Secretariat 50th anniversary tour due to longstanding ties to the Chenery family. Secretariat’s breeder Christopher Chenery grew up here, attended Randolph-Macon College, and founded nearby Meadow Stable where Secretariat was born in 1970. Penny Chenery took over the farm for her father and managed Secretariat’s spectacular career. Her daughter, author/speaker Kate Chenery Tweedy, lives in Ashland and is carrying on the Secretariat legacy. She is chairing the Secretariat For Virginia Committee to raise the funds to place the Secretariat monument permanently in Ashland.
“Secretariat’s story truly would come full circle if the monument is placed in Ashland,” said Ms. Tweedy. “How fitting it would be to see this happen during this milestone Triple Crown anniversary.”
Here is a preliminary schedule of the festivities on April 1. The day’s activities are FREE.
11 am – 1:30 pm at the Ashland Theatre: a free showing of the Disney film “Secretariat.” Kate Tweedy, who was in the film with her mother, will share her behind-the-scenes experience on the movie set.
2:00 pm at Ashland Town Hall Pavilion: the official unveiling of “Secretariat Racing Into History” monument with local officials, special guests, live music and birthday cake.
2:30 – 5:00 pm at Town Hall and Lawn areas: meet and greet with a Secretariat lookalike horse who is a descendant of “Big Red;” display of the first saddle Secretariat wore at Meadow Stable; kids’ activities and crafts; presentation on sculpting the monument by Jocelyn Russell; videos of Secretariat’s Triple Crown races; tours of the Ashland Museum featuring its Meadow Stable display; sale of Secretariat merchandise; and more.
“Secretariat Racing Into History” will stay in Ashland until late April. Then Ms. Russell and the monument will continue the anniversary tour through the summer. Further details of the tour will be announced by Secretariat.com shortly.
After the anniversary tour, the bronze is expected to return to Ashland as the fund-raising effort by SECVA continues. If fund-raising goals are met, this will be the first and only monument of Secretariat located in his home state. The town of Ashland and Randolph-Macon College have agreed to provide a site on the college campus near the CSX train tracks.
“I have always wanted this second edition of “Secretariat – Racing into History” to come home to Virginia,” said Ms. Russell. “This is literally where his history started.” The first version of the monument was placed in Lexington, Kentucky in 2019.
Donations for the monument are being accepted by the Ashland Museum, a 501c3 non-profit organization. For continuing program updates and additional information, please see www.SecretariatForVirginia.com
The cost of the Secretariat monument is $550,000, including transportation to the site. Installation and landscaping are additional costs, for which the group hopes to obtain in-kind contributions. SECVA is accepting pledges online and donations through the Ashland Museum, also a partner in the project.
If you have any questions on the monument or would like more information on how you can help make this movement to bring Secretariat home to Virginia a reality, please contact us and become part of “Friends of Secretariat for Virginia (SECVA).” You can also join our email list for updates on our progress. We look forward to hearing from you!