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Penny Chenery

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery Tweedy, October 28, 1973
Born 1922
Virginia, United States
Residence Boulder, Colorado
Education The Madeira School, Smith College, Columbia Business School
Occupation Racehorse owner/breeder
Known for Riva Ridge, Secretariat
Political party Republican
Board member of Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
Spouse(s) John Bayard Tweedy
Children Sally, Christopher, Kate, John
Parents Christopher Chenery & Helen Bates
Relatives Siblings: Hollis, Margaret

The Arlington Park Penny Chenery Distinguished Woman in Racing Award
Eclipse Award of Merit (2006)
Smith College Medal (2009)

Helen Bates "Penny" Chenery (born 1922 in Virginia) is an American sportswoman who bred and raced Secretariat, the 1973 winner of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. The youngest of three children, she graduated from The Madeira School in 1939, she earned a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College then studied at the Columbia Business School where she met her future husband, John Tweedy, a Columbia Law School student.[1] Married in May 1949, the couple had four children.

Meadow Farm Stable

A Virginia native, Chenery's family owned Meadow Farm, a thoroughbred racing operation and horse breeding business in Caroline County, Virginia founded by her father Christopher Chenery. Her father was admitted to New Rochelle, New York Hospital in late February of 1968 and remained there until his death in January of 1973. Always profitable, the stable began losing money in the latter part of the 1960s, exacerbated by Christopher Chenery's illness and as such, Penny Chenery's siblings planned to sell the operation on his passing. However, Penny Chenery had other ideas and the housewife of eighteen years and mother to four children took over management of the 2798-acre farm. In 1969 she was confronted with a difficult problem when trainer Casey Hayes decided to retire after more than 25 years with her father. Penny Chenery consulted with longtime family friend and business associate Bull Hancock of Claiborne Farm and on his advice, hired Roger Laurin to train and manage the Meadow Stable horses. Roger Laurin cut costs and returned the operation to profitability before accepting an offer to train for the powerful Phipps family stables. Penny Chenery then hired his father, Lucien, and in 1972 they guided the Meadow Farm's colt Riva Ridge to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes and the two-year-old Secretariat to 1972 American Horse of the Year honors. The following year, Secretariat captured the imagination of racing fans worldwide when he became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Both horses were inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

The Breeding of Secretariat

Although Christopher Chenery was recorded as the official breeder of Secretariat, well-known racing columnist Bill Nack wrote in his book on the racehorse that it was Penny Chenery who made the decision to breed their mare Somethingroyal to Bold Ruler twice. The first mating in 1968 produced the filly, The Bride, the second in 1969, Secretariat.

In 1983, Penny Chenery, Martha F. Gerry, and Allaire du Pont became the first women to be admitted as members of The Jockey Club. [1] From 1976 to 1984 Chenery served as president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. In 1983 she became the first woman elected a member of The Jockey Club and has also served as a member of the judges' panel for the Dogwood Dominion Award. In addition, she helped found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, an organization dedicated to saving Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter.

In addition to breeding Secretariat, Penny Chenery also bred Saratoga Dew who became the first New York-bred horse to ever win an Eclipse Award when the filly was voted the 1992 American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly. [2]

In 2003 the Arlington Park track established the annual "Penny Chenery Distinguished Woman in Racing Award". In 2006 the National Thoroughbred Racing Association honored her with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in thoroughbred racing. In 2009, she was awarded the Smith College Medal for extraordinary professional achievement and outstanding service to her community. [3]

A long-time resident of Westchester County, New York, Chenery now lives near her children in Boulder, Colorado.

Penny Chenery is portrayed by actress Diane Lane in the motion picture titled Secretariat scheduled to be released on October 8, 2010. [4]



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