Racing’s ‘First Lady’ Penny Chenery Passes Away 

Racing news
Secretariat took the Racing World and Penny Chenery for a Historic Ride

Helen “Penny” Chenery, a racing ambassador and owner of the great Triple Crown winner Secretariat, has passed away. The “First Lady of Thoroughbred Racing” was 95 and died due to complications from a stroke at her home in Colorado.

Penny’s two daughter’s and two sons announced the news through Chenery’s business partner and long-standing friend Leonard Lusky.

“We are deeply proud of our mother, her accomplishments, and her courage,” Kate Tweedy said. “As we mourn her loss, the example of her strength, her intelligence, and her enduring spirit continue to inspire us.”

Penny Chenery became involved in managing her father’s racing stable and property at Meadow Farm in Virginia in the late 1960’s. And in 1971 along came a Meadow homebred named Riva Ridge, who was champion 2-year-colt in 1971 and went on to win the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

But that warmup was just the beginning of the spotlight for Ms. Chenery. A flashy chestnut name Secretariat was about to build a monumental momentum for the Meadow Farm. In 1972, Secretariat broke onto the racing scene and was named Horse of the Year. In 1973, Secretariat took Penny Chenery and the Thoroughbred racing world on a historic ride. Secretariat became the first Triple Crown champion in 25 years, and he did it by setting records in all three jewels.

Penny Chenery celebrating Secretariat’s win at Belmont for the Triple Crown

Secretariat died in 1989, and Penny Chenery’s legacy will live on as well.

Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, released the following statement:

Whether as the owner of Secretariat, the brilliant Triple Crown Champion she campaigned nearly a half-century ago, or as a leader and ambassador for the sport she loved, Penny Chenery led an extraordinary life that touched Thoroughbred racing fans and others in a unique and personal way. Thankfully, her legacy will live on for many generations to come.”

In 2010, Disney Studios released the film Secretariat, and Diane Lane starred as Penny. Ms. Chenery has played a leading role herself in the racing world. The Breeders’ Cup Ltd. Added:

Penny Chenery made an indelible impact on the world of Thoroughbred racing, as an owner, industry leader and a grand ambassador of our sport for nearly half a century. Secretariat’s conquest of the Triple Crown in 1973 captivated an entire nation, as millions of Americans shared with her the great joy and celebration of Secretariat’s 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes, while Penny displayed remarkable sprit, grace and class through it all.

Just as important, we recall her tremendous devotion and contributions to the racing industry, breaking barriers as she became the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association, the first president of the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation, one of the founders of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and supported charitable causes through the Secretariat Foundation. Most of all, we miss Penny’s great warmth and dignity, as we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.

Leave a Reply