It’s been almost 44 years since legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat was born at The Meadow on March 30, 1970, and legions of devoted fans are still celebrating the birthday of “America’s Super Horse.”
The annual Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow in Doswell, Virginia, will offer fans a triple treat on Saturday, March 29, reuniting the three men who rode “Big Red” at the peak of his spectacular racing career. Slated to appear at the event are Hall of Fame jockeys Ron Turcotte and Eddie Maple and exercise rider Charlie Davis. It will be the first time all three men have been together at Secretariat’s birthplace in Virginia.
Turcotte piloted the legendary Thoroughbred to his unforgettable Triple Crown victory in 1973, breaking the track records in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. He also guided Meadow champion Riva Ridge to glory in the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont. Maple rode Secretariat to victory in his final race, the Canadian International at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. He also was aboard Riva Ridge in a second place effort to Secretariat in the prestigious 1973 Marlboro Cup. Davis exercised Secretariat during his morning gallops and developed his own close relationship with the great horse.
Joining the gathering will be Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery and co-author of the award-winning Secretariat’s Meadow–The Land, The Family, The Legend and Riva Ridge–Penny’s First Champion, which she wrote with Leeanne Meadows Ladin. Ladin, as author/historian, is now Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow.
The Meadow Birthday Celebration has become a tradition and anticipated occasion for Big Red fans who travel from across the country to enjoy the many festivities held in the historic and pastoral setting of Secretariat’s birthplace. The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. Program highlights include:
- Autograph sessions with the Secretariat team, who will make a grand entrance at 11:30 a.m. escorted by members of the Caroline Hunt,
- Extensive display of Secretariat merchandise and memorabilia for purchase,
- Exclusive memorabilia display including the first training saddles worn by Secretariat and Riva Ridge,
- Meeting local Secretariat descendants from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River,
- Narrated tram tours of the farm featuring Secretariat’s original foaling shed,
- Presentation of the horses and hounds of the Caroline Hunt,
- Meet and greet with original Meadow Stable grooms and riders who worked at the farm in its heyday,
- Pony rides and moon bounce for children,
- Local vendors selling equine-related items and Virginia products; and much more.
New this year is an Open House for the Museum of the Virginia Horse and the Meadow Champions Galleries in the Meadow Hall mansion. The museum exhibit illustrates the history of the horse in Virginia since Colonial times. The Meadow Champions Galleries showcase the famous broodmares and racehorses of Meadow Stable as well as the 1972-73 Triple Crown races of Secretariat and Riva Ridge.
At 5 p.m., the Secretariat team will be on hand for a VIP reception in Meadow Hall mansion. At 6 p.m., there will be an exclusive screening of the film “Secretariat’s Jockey – Ron Turcotte,” followed by Q&A with the team. Capping off the festivities at 8 p.m. will be the first ever Champagne Birthday Toast, which will take place at Secretariat’s original foaling shed with Turcotte, Maple, Davis and Tweedy. Celebrants will sip in style with an exclusive commemorative champagne glass.
General admission tickets for the Secretariat Birthday Celebration are $12 in advance; $15 at the gate; $5 for children age 5 to 12 and free for children age 4 and younger. The ticket includes the narrated tram tour of the farm. Parking is free.
Additional ticket packages are available for the VIP reception, film and champagne toast. Seating is limited for the special events. Visit http://www.secretariatsmeadow.com/all-events/ for more program information and to order advance tickets.
The Secretariat Birthday Celebration also kicks off a new expanded tourism program at The Meadow. Narrated tram tours and walking tours of the farm, featuring the historic barns, the new museum and galleries, and a gift shop, will be available by reservation. See www.secretariatsmeadow.com for more information on the tours.
Commonwealth Fairs & Events (CF&E) of Virginia and Secretariat.com of Louisville, Kentucky, are once again co-hosting the Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow. CF&E owns and operates Meadow Event Park and the State Fair of Virginia. Secretariat.com is the official website for the legendary Thoroughbred champion and oversees the development and management of Secretariat-related merchandise and events. Major sponsorship is provided by the Virginia Horse Industry Board, which is responsible for the promotion and economic development of the horse industry in Virginia.
The Meadow Event Park is located off I-95 at exit 98 (Doswell) 1.5 miles east of King’s Dominion theme park.