Penny Chenery, the breeder and owner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat has died aged 95 following complications from a stroke.
In 1973, Secretariat captured the imagination of racing fans worldwide when he became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
He won the final leg by 31 lengths in one of the greatest performances in the sport’s history.
The previous year, Riva Ridge won the Derby and Belmont Stakes.
Both colts were inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
“We are deeply proud of our mother, her accomplishments, and her courage,” Chenery’s daughter Kate Tweedy said.
Chenery developed a love of horses as a child and attributed her affinity for horses to her father, Christopher Chenery, who founded Meadow Stable, a thoroughbred racing and breeding operation, in Caroline County, Virginia.
After getting married to John Tweedy in1949, Chenery spent the next 20 years concentrating on being a housewife and mother to their four children.
Her life changed in 1968 when her father’s health began failing and her mother died.
Chenery took over management of the racing stable which was in danger of being closed.
But by 1971, her colt Riva Ridge swept the juvenile stakes and won two-year-old of the Year honours
In 1972, Riva Ridge won the Kentucky Derby, fulfilling her father’s dream in the last year of his life. That same year, Secretariat burst onto the scene, and was so dominant in the two-year-old races he was named Horse of the Year.
In 1973, Secretariat became a pop culture icon with his Triple Crown victory, landing on the cover of Time magazine.
For the next four decades, Chenery served as a careful steward of the colt’s legacy.
Chenery was portrayed by Diane Lane in the 2010 movie Secretariat.
“We have always been overwhelmed and amazed by the love and support Mom received from her many fans,” her son John Tweedy said.
Following Secretariat’s retirement, Chenery became an ambassador for thoroughbred racing and remained so after the colt’s death in 1989.
She served as the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and became one of the first women admitted to The Jockey Club and helped found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
She received the 2006 Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime contributions to the thoroughbred industry, and in recent years, she advocated for laminitis research and care as well as efforts to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing.