Secretariat Dedication Ceremony Attracts Hundreds of Appreciative Fans

March 30 was a monumental day for Ashland, Virginia and for horse racing from near and far! The town has proclaimed it “Secretariat Day” to celebrate the birthday of the legendary Triple Crown champion and to hold the long-awaited dedication ceremony for the stunning bronze statue “Secretariat Racing Into History” by sculptor Jocelyn Russell.

A formal dedication and ribbon-cutting took place at the Reynolds Family Plaza at Randolph-Macon College in downtown Ashland. This was the first and only monument of Secretariat in Virginia, his birth state. He was born on March 30, 1970 at Meadow Stable, which was founded by Christopher Chenery, who grew up in Ashland.

At 21 feet long and 11.5 feet tall, the monument depicts a larger-than-life Secretariat at a full run, ridden by jockey Ron Turcotte. The saddlecloth shows the number two for Secretariat’s post position in the 1973 Belmont, his most memorable race. The 3,800-pound artwork garnered national publicity last summer during its 5,000-mile tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown. The Secretariat For Virginia Committee with the non-profit Ashland Museum raised the funds for the project.

“Secretariat Racing Into History represents my family history coming full circle, in more ways than one,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, chair of SECVA. “Like my grandfather Chris Chenery and my mother Penny overcoming their challenges with Meadow Stable, our team displayed an unwavering determination to get the job done. We are extremely grateful for such a rewarding collaboration with the Ashland community, the Commonwealth of Virginia, generous donors, and loyal fans from near and far. This glorious monument will stand as an emblem of excellence and inspiration that honors a matchless legacy.”

As a tribute to Secretariat’s Virginia roots and his still-unbroken track records in the 1973 Triple Crown, the majestic sculpture will be standing on a base containing portions of sand from the original training track at Meadow Stable and from the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

Here are additional pictures from Big Red’s celebration Ashland:

Wayne Dementi, publisher of Secretariat’s Meadow, welcomed statue donors to a luncheon before the ribbon cutting.
 Members of the Second Zion Baptist Church Gospel Choir sing “Oh Happy Day”, a song featured in the Secretariat movie.
Virginia Racing Commission Chair Stephanie Nixon, who owns Ashland-based Horseshoe Hill Farm, was all smiles at the dedication ceremony.
Kate Chenery Tweedy posed for countless pictures after the ribbon cutting.
Jocelyn Russell’s magnificent bronze attracted hundreds of picture takers.
Memories from an era of greatness.
Sculptor Jocelyn Russell’s journey of creating the Secretariat bronze came to a perfect conclusion on March 30th.
Aidan Turnage-Barney of the Virginia Equine Alliance promoted upcoming racing events to festival attendees.
Leeanne Meadows Ladin, co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow, is a key part of the Secretariat for Virginia team.