It was Riva Ridge who saved the farm


This great picture by Bob Haskins shows Riva Ridge the day after he set a world record in the Brooklyn Handicap
This great picture by Bob Haskins shows Riva Ridge the day after he set a world record in the Brooklyn Handicap

For all the well-deserved glory heaped on Secretariat, when it comes to saving The Meadows, Penny Chereny Tweedy’s farm, the credit should go to Riva Ridge.

The colt had a spectacular 2-year old season  — which made the Chereny family decide to keep The Meadows — and as a three year old won both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont, losing the Preakness probably because he never ran well on a sloppy track.

This distinction will be lost on movie watchers as Riva Ridge is conveniently overlooked.

An excellent racehorse in his own right, Riva Ridge raced against his stablemate Secretariat only once, in the Marboro Cup. Carrying the top weight of 127 pounds, Riva Ridge finished second to Secretariat but still set a world record over a mile and an eighth. After greeting the winner, Penny Chereny Tweedy went to Riva Ridge and apparently said, “I have the greatest admiration for Secretariat, but I love Riva Ridge.” In private, her nickname for him was the Golden Boy.

So while he might have lived in Secretariat’s shadow as far as the public was concerned, in private, it seems that he was the star of his owner’s private movie.

Here’s a behind the scenes video of Riva Ridge taken in 1972 of Riva Ridge, Eddie Sweat, Lucien Lauren and the exercise rider when RR was stabled at Keeneland.

And here is Riva Ridge winning the Kentucky Derby, wire to wire, on a hand ride by Ron Turcotte.

12 thoughts on “It was Riva Ridge who saved the farm

  1. I love this! Riva Ridge was such a great horse! He went almost wire to wire in the Kentucky Derby. I have a granddaughter of RRidge and she has heart
    just like him. He was a great horse! Penny was right, he was a golden Boy.

    1. I have a g-daughter of Riva Ridge also. She is a Paint and can run like the wind. I’ve never raced her but she is a wonderful trail horse. The gentleman that broke her for me said she was the fastest horse he had ever ridden and I have to agree with him.

  2. For some time after Secretariat’s remarkable 1973 season, Lucien Lauren maintained that he still believed that Riva Ridge could have beaten Secretariat. Still the facts are the facts, but in taking a look at a 2 year span of racing, Meadow Stables won 5 of 6 American Classics, Ron Turcotte became the first jockey in history to win back to back Kentucky Derby’s, Lucien Laurin did train both of these horses, and one went on to the Triple Crown. All in all, not a bad showing. There is still Secretariat’s Belmont records which still stand and may never be broken. Penny did love Riva Ridge as well.

  3. Hi.. Was wondering who Bob Haskins was to Riva Ridge and the Meadows?? Looking on line , but no information.
    Thank You
    Stephanie

  4. I was at the 1972 and 1973 derby, and saw both Riva Ridge and Secretariat. I thought Riva Ridge was incredible who probably would have won the Triple Crown had he not raced in California [never the same after that]. I saw Red come from last place and passed horses as if they were standing still [especially in the Preakness]. Red had the greatest move in history and the longest stride I’ve ever seen. The best ever: Secretariat! Best not to win the Triple Crown – Riva Ridge! Best owner: Penny Chenery!

    1. Wow! Watching both races in person must have been incredible. I saw them on TV and they made a huge impression. But to see them live? Just wow.

  5. I owned a Riva Ridge son for several years and have that horse’s daughter (Riva’s granddaughter). Both horses have been a joy to have around with their sweet dispositions and striking appearance. I am always surprised by how much my two look like one another and like Riva. He may be in the shadow of his famous stablemate in the eyes of many, but his accomplishments are not forgotten by those of us who know better. He was special in his own right and his offspring continue to display his legacy.

  6. We owned a son of Riva Ridge ..”Great Britain” aka Jr. was a beautiful Chestnut horse…
    He was our main farm stud. . And real sweetheart.. Was also my riding horse as well….
    He passed away at the ripe old age of 24+ yrs…
    He is very much missed ..And thought about each and every day..
    He was that kind of horse…

    We still have one of his sons with us ,who is getting long in the tooth …
    That is very much like his sire ( Jr. ) . And Grandsire (Riva Ridge) …

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