Secretariat’s annual birthday celebration this weekend is expected to be doubly exciting in the wake of last year’s Triple Crown victory by American Pharoah, an amazing horse whose lineage dates back to the legendary red racehorse who ran away with the Triple Crown in 1973.
Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat Tourism Manager at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va., says though the lineage between the two great horses dates back a long ways, it’s there, and that connection helps to underscore the horse who will be feted April 1-3 during the annual Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow.
“When Pharoah won the Triple Crown, my phone rang off the hook,” Ladin says. “And more than a few knew he was Secretariat’s great-great-great grandson.”
As if that connection isn’t exciting enough, Secretariat’s lineage will be further celebrated by the arrival to The Meadow of his great-great granddaughter, Groundshaker. The last racehorse bred and raced by legendary owner Penny Chenery arrives at Secretariat’s birthplace to help kick off the weekend celebration, before beginning retirement on the farm, Ladin says.
“Groundshaker will be debuted this weekend, and then we expect her to retire here permanently beginning this summer, after we have a barn and pasture ready for her,” Ladin says. “Bringing Groundshaker to The Meadow brings everything full circle. This is where Secretariat was born, and now this is where his legacy will live on in the last racehorse bred and raced by Penny Chenery.”
In addition to the beautiful, 17-hand filly, celebrants will be treated to visits with author William Nack, who penned, “Secretariat—The Making of a Champion,” and Otto Thorwart, who portrayed jockey Ron Turcotte in the Disney film Secretariat.
They will be joined by Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery, and by Secretariat’s exercise Charlie Davis.
The three-day event marks both the birthday of the great horse, which is March 30, 1970, and the 80-year history of the Meadow Stable.
“There is so much excitement building for this event,” Ladin says. “Last year, I had visitors from Australia, Canada and England. Just this morning, a gentleman from Texas called and he’s coming. We’re expecting people from all over the country.”