Monthly Archives: February 2024

Secretariat Monument Groundbreaking Takes Place in Ashland on Feb. 7

Virginia horse racing fans got to celebrate a milestone event Wednesday February 7 as a ceremonial groundbreaking for the magnificent bronze Secretariat “Racing into History’ monument took place in Ashland on the outer edge of the Randolph Macon College campus. The ceremony took place under gorgeous sunny skies, and a large, appreciative crowd was on hand to celebrate Virginia’s greatest athlete — who also happens to be a hometown hero. Groundbreaking speakers included Kate Tweedy (daughter of Secretariat owner Penny Chenery Tweedy), Jocelyn Russell (sculptor of the Secretariat statue), Steve Trivett (Mayor of​ Ashland) and Ann Martin (President of the Ashland Museum). 

A ceremonial groundbreaking took place February 7 in Ashland where the magnificent Secretariat statue will be permanently based.

A formal statue dedication will take place on Saturday March 30 during Secretariat’s birthday celebration in Ashland. The grand event will feature vendors, food trucks, a choir, guest speakers, photo opportunities and a free showing of the movie Secretariat at the Ashland Theatre among other activities. 

The Secretariat statue traveled to a handful of tracks in 2023 including Shenandoah Downs and Colonial Downs in Virginia.

The Town of Ashland accepted the monument the evening prior where it took formal ownership of Big Red. Secretariat will be based on land at the college that has been leased to the Town. The small park — located the intersection of England Street & Railroad Avenue — will formally be named the Reynolds Family Plaza at Randolph Macon College.

Kate Tweedy, who lives in downtown Ashland, proudly talked about her family ties to the great Secretariat.

“It was a wonderful ceremony and a very moving moment for me,” noted Tweedy. “It was the culmination of a long project and a lot of good work. Last night was a crowning achievement.”

“My grandfather began to fulfill his dream to breed and race good horses here in Virginia in 1936 and it took a long time before the greatest horse came around,” she continued. “My mom took over when he became ill and served as the steward of Secretariat. I can only imagine what Granddad and Mom would think about this project. I just know that they would be overwhelmingly proud and thrilled about today, and about what it will look like at the dedication ceremony. 

At the end of her remarks, Tweedy announced that a sandy area underneath the statue will include sand mixed in from track surface materials at all three Triple Crown host tracks — Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont — in addition to sand from The Meadow, Big Red’s birthplace in Doswell. Sculptor Jocelyn Russell then took a pail of sand from The Meadow and spread it in with an existing sand mixture in front of the stage that was used for the ceremonial groundbreaking.    

Sculptor Jocelyn Ruussell (right) — who is based in the state of Washington — and friend Robin Hutton (left) were at the groundbreaking and will return for the March 30 dedication.

Russell, who was emotional in discussing the scope of the sculpting process and the efforts from many that went into it, sent a blanket thank you to everyone involved and promised a longer speech at the dedication. 

Jeannie Welliver, Project Manager for Secretariat’s permanent home base in Ashland, is all smiles at the groundbreaking.

Mayor Trivett referenced what a big event this is for Ashland and that the Town was breaking ground in a special way. “This is not only the first monument of Secretariat in Hanover County, or the first monument of Secretariat in Central Virginia, but the first monument of Secretariat in the state of Virginia! We are extremely proud to continue Ashland’s longstanding ties with Chenery family and on March 30th, this park will be the center of the ‘Center of the Universe’.” 

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Gray Machine Threat Poses Risks to Virginia’s Horse Racing Industry

In the last few months, the issue of Skill games in Virginia has come to a boiling point. After being deemed illegal on July 1st of this year, major players in the skill game industry have been lobbying and sending money to politicians in Virginia with the intention of bringing these machines back online. These unregulated gambling devices not only jeopardize the integrity of gaming in Virginia but also pose serious risks to economic impact of the racing industry and safety in the Commonwealth as a whole.

Key concerns regarding gray machines in Virginia:

  1. Unregulated Gambling: Gray machines operate outside the purview of existing gambling regulations, creating an environment ripe for illegal activities. This not only undermines the legal framework but also allows these gray machines to operate without either the local or statewide referendums that were previously required for all casinos and OTB’s (Off Track Betting Parlors) in the Commonwealth.
  2. Revenue Loss: The horse racing industry is a vital contributor to Virginia’s economy. The infiltration of gray machines threatens to divert potential revenue away from legitimate racing operations and the HHR machines that help fund the races in Virginia. Unlike other forms of gaming in the Commonwealth the “Skill-Games” are currently not obligated to pay any taxes and do not support any of the programs mandated with other gaming in the state (Gambling Addiction and Retired Racehorses programs). This could lead to money being taken away from everyone involved in the industry from Veterinarians, Truck Drivers, Racetrack Personal, and beyond.
  3. Potential for Criminal Activities: Unregulated gambling environments often attract criminal elements. The unchecked growth of gray machines could open the door to money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activities that can further harm the overall safety of the locations these machines would be installed in all across the Commonwealth. Furthermore, these machines lack of accountability allows children much younger than the required 21 years of age to play to have the opportunity to participate in their local gas stations. This could lead to an explosion in underage gambling in the Commonwealth.

Here are couple of Articles from local outlets that have come out recently discussing the dangers of these games.

Keep ‘gray’ machines out of Virginia (

Virginia: Skill game legalization hits House roadblock (

As stakeholders in the Virginia horse racing community, it is imperative that we join forces to address this issue promptly. Here’s how you can help:

  • Complete the form at the bottom of this email to Contact your Legislator!
  • Spread Awareness: Share this information with fellow horse racing enthusiasts, industry professionals, and anyone else dedicated to protecting the “Sport of Kings” in the Commonwealth. Increased awareness is key to fostering a united front against the threat of gray machines.
  • Advocate for Regulation: Support efforts to regulate and monitor gambling activities, urging policymakers to take decisive action to address the proliferation of gray machines.

Let us work together to safeguard the future of Horse racing in Virginia. By addressing the risks posed by gray machines, we can ensure a fair, transparent, and thriving environment for all involved. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.

Please contact your legislator here.