Helen "Penny" Chenery, whose captivating charm and enthusiasm as the owner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat earned her the unofficial title of "First Lady of Racing," will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.
Chenery will receive the honor on Jan. 23 at the 35th Annual Eclipse Awards at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif. The ceremonies will be carried live by TVG.
"I am just tickled to win this award," said Chenery, who recently relocated to Boulder, Colo. "I've had a wonderful time in racing, with the fans, my peers, and of course, the horses. The greatest sight in racing is seeing your horse with your silks on coming down the stretch in the lead. The second greatest thing is seeing a foal born. That's Gods gift to us." Throughout the campaign, Chenery, who took over the Meadow operation for her ailing father, Christopher, embodied grace and elegance in the spotlight. Secretariat's 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes is forever intertwined with the image of Chenery, arms held high in triumph. In the 32 years since Secretariat's Triple Crown, Chenery has been widely recognized as racing's goodwill ambassador throughout the world. She also became extremely active in Thoroughbred causes and foundations. Chenery served as president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) from 1976-1984. She was also president of the Grayson Foundation for equine research in 1985-'86, and was elected to membership in The Jockey Club in 1983. Chenery has also been leading advocate for the health and welfare of retired Thoroughbreds and was a driving force in the formation of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) 25 years ago.Chenery will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit nearly 33 years to the day after accepting the Horse of the Year trophy on behalf of Secretariat for his 2-year-old season and 32 years after accepting the Horse of the Year trophy following his 3-year-old campaign.