Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery dies aged 95
The American racing community is in mourning following the death over the weekend of Helen 'Penny' Chenery, owner of the legendary Secretariat.
According to US reports, she passed away on Saturday at her home in Colorado from complications after a stroke. She was 95.
Trained by Lucien Laurin and ridden by Ron Turcotte, the giant chestnut known as 'Big Red' set a track record in the Kentucky Derby and a stakes record in the Preakness before an unforgettable 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes in world-record time that has gone down as one of the greatest performances of all-time.
According to the Daily Racing Form, Chenery's "influence on the sport spanned decades and [her] standing inspired generations of women in racing".
As well as becoming a well-known figure during Secretariat's Triple Crown campaign, in which she became popular for sharing her equine superstar with the public, Chenery left her mark on the sport in a variety of roles.
Awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2006, she was the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, she helped found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and was one of the first women elected to the American Jockey Club.
More than anything else, however, Chenery was an ambassador for the sport over several decades from the 1970s onwards.
In a statement, Alex Waldrop, president of the NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association), paid tribute. He said: "Whether as the owner of Secretariat, the brilliant Triple Crown champion she campaigned nearly a half-century ago, or as a leader and ambassador for the sport she loved, Penny Chenery led an extraordinary life that touched Thoroughbred racing fans and others in a unique and personal way. Thankfully, her legacy will live on for many generations to come."
Chenery took over management of her ailing father Christopher's Meadow Stable in the late 1960s and was co-owner of Meadow Stud along with her brother Hollis Chenery and sister Margaret Carmichael. She was known as Penny Tweedy during Secretariat’s racing days before reverting to her maiden name after divorcing Jack Tweedy.
As well as Secretariat, who died in 1989 from laminitis, she campaigned Riva Ridge, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1972.
Diane Lane played Chenery in the 2010 Disney Studio movie Secretariat.