Chenery Film Details Affair With Laurin

Chenery Film Details Affair With Laurin
Photo: Blood-Horse Library
Penny Chenery in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle with Secretariat.

In a new documentary, Penny Chenery reveals that during Secretariat's 1973 Triple Crown run she had an affair with her champion racehorse's trainer, Lucien Laurin.

The film "Penny & Red: The Life of Secretariat's Owner," was produced by Chenery's son, John Tweedy, and premiered Sept. 20 at Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Lexington as part of the annual Secretariat Festival. Held in Paris, Ky., the Secretariat Festival is a celebration of the horse's achievements and a chance for fans to talk to Chenery and others linked to Secretariat.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader's report on the documentary, Chenery and Laurin were both married at the time of the affair, although Chenery's marriage to Jack Tweedy was on the rocks and they would divorce later that year.

Chenery, 91, said she decided to speak candidly about her life so that the fans would know the version portrayed in the 2010 Disney film "Secretariat" isn't the whole story, the Herald-Leader reported.

"It may spoil my image. I don't know, and at this point, I don't care," Chenery told the newspaper in an interview. "It was a tremendous experience for me to go through the Secretariat years, and I just really wanted to let people know what it's like to have a top horse and no one to turn to.

"I was no longer married, my kids were not involved, and all of that pressure and press attention—Lucien and I were buddies, and then we were more," Chenery said.

The Herald-Leader reported the affair ended after Secretariat retired that fall to Claiborne Farm in Paris to stand as a stallion.

"We'd run into each other at Hall of Fame ceremonies but, of course, he had a wife," Chenery said. "Neither one of us wanted it to be a destructive part of our careers. When the fever burnt out, we were just casual friends."

Laurin died in June 2000 in Miami at the age of 88; Secretariat died in 1989 at the age of 19.

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