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 record-setting Triple Crown of 1973.
At 21 feet long and 11.5 feet tall, this is the largest monument of Secretariat in existence. As such, it is a dramatic representation of the Virginia-born Thoroughbred champion’s larger-than-life presence as an equine athlete and American icon.
Dubbed “Secretariat Racing Into History,” the work by renowned equine artist Jocelyn Russell is traveling over 1,000 miles from the foundry in Oklahoma to the historic town of Ashland, Virginia. On April 1, the heroically proportioned artwork will be formally unveiled there 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 its longstanding ties to the Chenery family. Secretariat’s breeder Christopher Chenery grew up here, attended Ashland’s own Randolph-Macon College, and founded nearby Meadow Stable, where Secretariat was foaled 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 Tweedy. “How fitting it would be to see this happen during this milestone Triple Crown anniversary.”
“Secretariat Racing Into History” will stay in Ashland until late April. Then Russell and the monument will continue the anniversary tour through the summer. Further details of the tour will be announced by Secretariat.com.
After the anniversary tour, the bronze is expected to return to Ashland as the fundraising effort 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 Russell. “This is literally where his history started.” The first version of the monument was placed in Lexington, Kentucky in 2019.
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. Friends of Secretariat for Virginia (SECVA) is accepting pledges online and donations through the Ashland Museum, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
For program updates and additional information, please see www.SecretariatForVirginia.com
Images from Secretariat for Virginia website and Facebook page