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.