Secretariat Highlights Virginia's New Museum of the Horse

Secretariat will become more visible in Virginia in the coming months as part of the establishment of the Virginia Museum of the Horse.

Legislation passed by the 2003 session of Virginia's General Assembly allow Secretariat license plates to be sold by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to raise funds for the museum. The number of images for the plates have been narrowed down to two; the head image of Secretariat as shown on the U.S. Postal stamp and the 1973 Preakness photo taken by Raymond Woolfe showing Secretariat crossing the finish line.

Also to raise money for the museum, the Caroline County Board of Supervisors will be holding an equestrian fair on Saturday, May 31st at the Caroline County Community Services Center. As part of the evening program, a dinner will be held at Old Mansion, which was built in 1669 and believed to be the oldest continuous inhabited dwelling in Virginia.

"We're throwing a party for the greatest racehorse of all time," said Gary Wilson, the Director of Economic Development for Caroline County, located north of Richmond. "We want to tell the world that Secretariat came from Caroline County. It's an honor we want to keep alive."

As part of the fair, Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, will be available from 11 am to 1 pm to sign autographs. Secretariat's hotwalker, Jim Gaffney, and Bill Nack, the author of "Secretariat, The Making of a Champion" are also scheduled to attend. In addition, Wilson also hopes to make arrangements for Secretariat's jockey, Ron Turcotte, to appear. The county ran a similar event on March 30th as part of a birthday celebration for Secretariat that was effected by inclement weather.

"In March we had 150 people cold and wet in the snow listening to blues music," commented Wilson.

As soon as this fall, retired thoroughbred racehorses will be making their home on 200 acres of the home of the father of the Constitution, James Madison. Montpelier, a 2700-acre estate in Orange County, Virginia was the home of the fourth U.S. President and his wife, Dolley Madison.

"For much of the 20th century, under the stewardship of Marion duPont Scott, Montpelier was one of the nation's premier equestrian centers," said Michael C. Quinn, President of the Montpelier Foundation. "In partnership with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, we are proud that Montpelier will continue to be a showcase for America's racehorses."

"It's a win-win for both parties," said Randy Huwa, Montpelier's Director of Communications. "They will get good exposure through our visitor's center. We will get important improvements to Montpelier,"

Scott built a steeplechase course and a flat track at Montpelier. The Montpelier Hunt Races are held on the first Saturday in November on the steeplechase course. The flat track on site is shared by two trainers.