Helen “Penny” Chenery has been selected Honor Guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America’s 81st annual Testimonial Dinner, club president Julie Cauthen announced Aug. 8. The renowned owner of Secretariat and long-time champion of the sport will be honored at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington Sept. 30.
“In selecting Mrs. Chenery, I believe our directors have made an exemplary addition to the highest ideals of the Testimonial Dinner,” Cauthen said. “When you look back at such honorees as Col. E.R. Bradley of Idle Hour, William Woodward Sr. of Belair Stud, Warren Wright of Calumet Farm, three generations of Claiborne Farm’s Hancock family, and such as Woody Stephens, Bill Shoemaker, Wayne Lukas, and Mack Miller, you get an appreciation for the high standards set for this honor. Certainly, Mrs. Chenery’s stewardship of Secretariat’s ongoing legacy and her other services to racing fit this mold very admirably.”
The Thoroughbred Club of America Annual Testimonial Dinner has honored persons who have rendered distinguished service to the sport of thoroughbred racing. To learn more about the TCA, go to thethoroughbredclub.com. For tickets to the dinner, contact Betty Flynn at (859) 254-4282.
Chenery is a daughter of the late Christopher T. Chenery, who re-established his family’s ancestral Meadow Stud in Virginia and rose to the highest ranks in the sport and business of Thoroughbred racing with the racing career of Secretariat.
Mrs. Chenery did not recede into a passive role in Thoroughbred racing when Secretariat’s racing career ended. She served as president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association from 1976-84. She was also president of the Grayson Foundation supporting 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. In 2005, Chenery was voted the Eclipse Award of Merit, which ranks with the TCA’s Testimonial Dinner among racing’s high honors.
“Mrs. Chenery recognized the opportunity to utilize the public’s love of Secretariat for the good of racing and of race horses,” Cauthen said. “She has been instrumental in a number of projects which utilize the image of Secretariat for positive causes. One is establishing the Secretariat Vox Populi Award, which she describes as ‘acknowledging the star horse who brings the most excitement and attention to the sport,’ regardless of whether it is a Derby winner or just an honest, consistent campaigner at another level. Another is the annual Secretariat Festival in Paris, Ky.
“Through all of these years, Penny Chenery has remained the epitome of a grand lady of racing, always representing the highest ambitions and standards of those to whom the Thoroughbred is an important part of life,” added Mrs. Cauthen. “We all be truly proud that she is a part of our sport.”