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Penny Chenery Thoroughbred Owner

Monday January 23, 2006

It was said of him that he "looked like a Rolls-Royce in a field of Volkswagens" and --in a sport about which it is difficult to find agreement on almost any topic-- when the talk turns to just who is the greatest Thoroughbred of all time, it is certain that the name of Secretariat will always be in the conversation. 

The first Triple Crown winner of the television age, his stunning 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes remains one of the most incredible feats in all of sports history.

At its annual banquet in Los Angeles the evening of January 23rd, the NTRA will honor Secretariat owner and unofficial "First Lady of Racing" Penny Chenery with the Eclipse Award of Merit for her lifelong contribution to Thoroughbred racing.

Ms. Chenery, who took over the reins of her ailing father's racing stable during the development and campaign of Secretariat, has served as president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the Grayson Foundation for equine research. She has also been a key player in the effort to provide a dignified life after racing for retired racehorses as a strong supporter of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Today, we have the very special honor of spending an hour or so with one of the true legends of Thoroughbred history, as Ms. Penny Chenery has agreed to answer your questions on the morning of the day she is to receive the Eclipse Award of Merit. Good morning, Ms. Chenery, and thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us.

Lexington, KY:
When Secretariat died, how much of an interest in him did you still actually own?

Ms. Chenery:
None. He was entirely owned by the syndicate. I had sold my share. I owned no fractional share but he owned my heart.

Tucson, AZ:
Penny, what an honor! I wish everyone in racing was as classy as you. I grew up with horses, don't have them now, but have decided when the time comes for me to have horses again that I will rescue an off-the-track race horse. Sadly, there is no shortage of horses to rescue, and I am familiar with and support several organizations, yours included. I have heard that they need special training after a racing career, to become regular riding/trail horses. Can you please suggest any places/organizations that help with this training? Thank you sooo much! Best wishes always!! Malinda in Tucson

Ms. Chenery:
I am sure there are any number of good horse trainers who can guide you during the transition. My thought is to first get the horse rested and comfortable with you. Then you will probably need slow in an enclosed facility. As you gain his trust and he responds to your commands, take him out into less protected areas and let him get used to being with other horses casually so that he’ll want to join the group. Some horses adjust well and others retain their old track habits.

Best of Talkin HorsesTo read the complete transcript of this chat, along with many others, check out Best of Talkiní Horses.

Best of Talkin’ Horses features provocative “chats” with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most prominent names. Adapted from “Talkin’ Horses,” the popular weekly online chat series hosted by, this edited collection provides additional insights by Ron Mitchell, editor and moderator of “Talkin’ Horses."


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