Virginia Horse Festival welcomes Secretariat descendant for birthday bash

Groundshaker is a great-great-granddaughter of Secretariat and the last racehorse bred by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery. Photo by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation

The second annual Virginia Horse Festival is being held April 1-3 near Richmond, Virginia, at The Meadow Event Park in Doswell, and this year the festival will welcome a equine guest with a special tie to the park.

Groundshaker,  a great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Secretariat, will be on hand for a special birthday celebration for the Triple Crown winner, who was born at The Meadow Event Park in 1970. Efforts are underway to eventually welcome Groundshaker as a permanent resident at The Meadow.


Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner and daughter of Meadow Stable’s founder Christopher T. Chenery, said it was only fitting for Groundshaker to play this role in the ongoing preservation of The Meadow’s heritage.

“Groundshaker needed a new job and a new home,” said Chenery. “She is the last horse I
bred and raced, so her stay at The Meadow will bring our story full circle. As we mark the 80th anniversary of my father’s founding of Meadow Stable in 1936, Groundshaker will be a living, breathing, beautiful thread to that treasured past.”

Her link to Secretariat comes through her dam, Cotton Anne, who is a granddaughter of Terlingua, one of Secretariat’s best daughters and the dam of Storm Cat. Groundshaker is 5 years old.

The Secretariat birthday celebration will include autograph signings with Secretariat’s biographer, Bill Nack; Otto Thorwarth, who portrayed Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte in the Disney movie; former exercise rider Charlie Davis; and Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat. There also will be narrated tram tours of the farm, a “Paddock Party” to welcome Groundshaker and a “Memories of The Meadow” anniversary party with the Secretariat team.

The paddock party and Meadow anniversary event require separate tickets, which can be purchased on the horse festival website until 11:59 p.m. March 27.

The Meadow will soon launch a fundraising campaign to build a functional barn and pasture fencing for Groundshaker, and to eventually restore the 1930s-era Meadow Stable barns listed on the state and national historic registers.

Other notable events during the horse festival include a Colt Starting Challenge, during which eight trainers will gentle and ride a previously unridden horse. As they work with the horses Friday and Saturday, they will explain to audiences how they are gentling the colts. On Saturday night during the finale, the trainers and horses will navigate a judged obstacle course to determine the winner.

The festival will also include the Southern States Parade of Breeds, which highlights different breeds of horses, including draft horses, mules, Paint horses, Paso Finos, Rocky Mountain horses, Tennessee Walkers and Thoroughbreds. The parade will be held Friday night.

The festival features more than 100 clinics, demonstrations and seminars, and over 60 retail vendors offering shopping and food.

Festival hours are 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, Va., is the birthplace of Secretariat and home to the State Fair of Virginia. The Meadow is owned by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which is committed to preserving Virginia’s rich agricultural heritage and ensuring that the property thrives as a regional event and equine venue.


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