Secretariat’s birthplace named Va. landmark

Secretariat in his famous foal picture, taken at the Meadow Farm. Photo courtesy Leeanne Meadows Ladin

Secretariat in his famous foal picture, taken at the Meadow Farm. Photo courtesy Leeanne Meadows Ladin

(Press Release)— The birthplace of 1973 Triple Crown champion Secretariat was named to the Virginia Landmarks Register by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources March 19.

Known as the Meadow Historic District, the designation includes the foaling shed where Secretariat was born on March 30, 1970; his training barn, where he wore his first saddle and bridle; the yearling barn where he stayed as a colt; and a yearling barn annex, stallion barn, horse cemetery, well house and pump house. Most of the structures were built in the 1930s by Christopher T. Chenery, the founder of Meadow Stable. They are located in Caroline County, in what is now known as The Meadow Event Park, owned by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

This famous shed is now a historic preservation site.

This famous shed is now a historic preservation site.

Secretariat’s record-shattering Triple Crown victories earned him the title of “America’s Super Horse” and remain unsurpassed to this day. ESPN named him among its top 50 athletes of the 20th century, and TIME, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated featured him on their covers. Secretariat transcended his sport to attain hero status in the popular culture of the time. The big red stallion, owned and raced by Penny Chenery, was beloved by millions, regardless of whether they knew anything about horses or horse racing. In recent years, his enduring popularity has enjoyed a resurgence due to the Disney feature film Secretariat.

“I am deeply honored that the birthplace of Secretariat is now listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register as the Meadow Historic District,” Penny Chenery said. “This designation is a fitting tribute to the land, our horses and my father’s legacy.”

VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor said that organization “is extremely pleased about this important historic designation for the birthplace of Secretariat at The Meadow. We are proud to be the stewards of the Virginia farm that produced an American legend, and we invite all fans of Secretariat to come visit.”

The Meadow was founded in 1805 by Dr. Charles S. Morris, an ancestor of Christopher Chenery. Chenery purchased the farm in 1936 and transformed it into one of the most famous racing stables of its time.

The Meadow was founded in 1805 by Dr. Charles S. Morris, an ancestor of Christopher Chenery. Chenery purchased the farm in 1936 and transformed it into one of the most famous racing stables of its time.

Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow Event Park and co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, the Family, The Legend, said, “We definitely will be celebrating the Meadow historic designation at the Secretariat birthday event next week.” Ladin coordinated the research and documentation for the nomination process. She noted the substantial support of the George Washington Regional Planning Commission, planners Diana Utz and Danny Reese, historic preservationist Eden Brown and the Caroline County Department of Economic Development and Tourism throughout the nomination effort.

The Department of Historic Resources will forward the Meadow materials to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. That process takes about 60 days.

Meadow Stable produced many notable Thoroughbreds in addition to Secretariat. Outstanding but overshadowed was Riva Ridge, who won the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. In 1971, his winnings saved Meadow Stable from the auction block when Penny Chenery’s family was pressuring her to sell the farm and all the horses. Other champions include Hill Prince, 1950 Horse of the Year; First Landing, sire of Riva Ridge; Sir Gaylord, 1962 Kentucky Derby contender; Cicada, top money-winning filly of the 1960s; and the great broodmares Somethingroyal, dam (mother) of Secretariat; Hildene; Imperatrice; and Iberia, to name a few.

The Meadow was founded in 1805 by Dr. Charles S. Morris, an ancestor of Christopher Chenery. Chenery purchased the farm in 1936 and transformed it into one of the most famous racing stables of its time. The farm was sold in 1979, changing hands several times before Farm Bureau became sole owner in 2013. The Meadow Event Park is the site of the annual State Fair of Virginia, the Virginia Horse Festival, K95 CountryFest at The Meadow, Illuminate Light Show, regional horse shows, trade shows, weddings and many other events. For more information, visit

The Secretariat Birthday Celebration is part of the new Virginia Horse Festival taking placeMarch 27-29. For more information on the celebration and The Meadow’s year-round narrated tour program conducted by Ladin, visit For the complete schedule of activities and ticket information for the Virginia Horse Festival, Contact Leeanne Ladin, 804-363-1683.

Please see a related story about Secretariat’s grandson Covert Action. He will appear at the Meadow this month:

12 responses to “Secretariat’s birthplace named Va. landmark”

  1. John D'Esposito

    Rarely a week goes by that I don’t view a video, picture or article about Secretariat. There is something so special in this horse that moves me. I love this guy and only wish I was old enough to remember 1973. Before I die I hope to visit where Secretariat was born and where he died. He was the best. He went all out. He loved to run. He loved to win.

  2. Laura & Steve P

    We adopted a great, great, grandson of Secretariat. Father Weist was a beauty and a real character. We are proud to be a part of Secretariat’s extended family. He was truly a Super Horse!

  3. Jon

    I have always wondered what Laffit Pincay, Jr, Sham’s jockey, what thinking during the Belmont at the 3/4 mile mark of race as the speed duel between Sham and Secretariat began to shift towards Secretariat’s favor. I wonder if he was in awe of what was unfolding right in front of him. Sham is flat out and Secretariat is pulling away from him like he was never there. I love the commentary of Chic Anderson, it was so spot on for what was happening. “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine!” I will never forget watching that race and a kid.

  4. Joyce Arbogast

    So happy this outstanding horse is going to be recognized in this way, He was “The horse that God built” There will never be another like him!

  5. Jon

    My 7 year mare is a descendent of the Great One through the Dehere line.

    1. Susan Salk

      One of these days we are doing a story!

      1. Jon

        My OTTB’s and unraced TB have story’s

  6. Andrea

    I am so delighted to read this and hope to one day make the trip up to VA. What a great horse! I too (like so many others) have a grandson, albeit, 4x removed, of Secretariat, big and red, who we adopted from New Vocations. I also have a photo of Secretariat mugging it with a friend of mine outside his barn at Claiborne Farm in KY….who can ever forget Big Red!

  7. Rob Davis

    Secretariat, the horse that God built. I will never forget Secretariat for he will always live in my heart forever and a day. I would surely love to be there for the Secretariat Birthday Celebration with the new Virginia Horse Festival taking place on March 27-29 or even to be there on March 30 2015 for Secretariat’s true 45th Birthday but I’m not able too. Maybe someone will be kind enough to record some of this celebration events and share this with the ones who wasn’t able to attend this awesome event. I for one would greatly appreciate this. I’m also looking forward for Secretariat’s 50th Birthday celebration on March 30th 2020 that I’m planning to attend if all possible. Thanks so much.

  8. Linda R. Moss

    Susan – what a great post today! I can imaging that you had a great time writing this – such a historic milestone for such a great horse and family. I hope you feel great about this article – as one of your fans and admirers – I feel great for you!!!

  9. Wendy Scott

    Again so many famous racehorses go back to Roi Herod, and Secretariat is no exception.

  10. Patti

    I’m rejoicing with you about Secretariat Foaling Barn! I saw him win all 3 & will NEVER forget him. I have Hurricane Day who is 9 on March 22 and great great grandson of Sec. Stormy Atlantic & Boxing Day are his parents. HD is Kentucky bred. I love having a part of Secretariat. HD is a kind sweet gentle gelding. Sad he did not sire with such excellent bloodlines. I hope to visit your place. I would love to meet you & Penny. Thank you for everything and all the love your family has given since the birth of The Farm. God Bless you.

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