Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, dies at 95

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery after Secretariat won the Triple Crown.

Helen “Penny” Chenery, known as “Secretariat’s Mom” and the First Lady of Racing, died September 16th from complications following a stroke. Chenery was 95.

Chenery is best known for breathing life into her father’s Meadow Stable when his failing health left him unable to manage the farm. This part of her story became immortalized in the Disney movie, Secretariat, which shows her working against the odds in an industry dominated by men.

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery, Secretariat and Ronnie Turcotte after the Triple Crown.

What the movie didn’t tell us was what an interesting and accomplished woman Penny Chenery was even before she bred Riva Ridge and Secretariat, fulfilling her father’s dream to win the Kentucky Derby not once, but twice.

Penny graduated from Smith College in 1943. Eager to help with the war effort, her first job was working for the naval architecture firm that designed Normandy landing craft. She then served as a nurse’s aide in a stateside hospital. In 1946, Chenery went to France and Germany with the American Red Cross, working with demobilizing GIs. Once home, she

Penny Chenery with Secretariat.
Penny Chenery with Secretariat.

entered Columbia Business School, one of only 20 women in her class. However, just six months before graduation, she became engaged to Jack Tweedy, a Columbia Law graduate. Her father pressured her to quit and concentrate on her wedding and she complied.

Chenery put that business school training to work when she ran Meadow Stable, taking the farm out of the red while also breeding two of the best racehorses ever.

Chenery went on to blaze more trails in the Thoroughbred Racing industry. To name just a few of her accomplishments,  she was the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, was one of the first women elected to the Jockey Club, was the president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, helped form the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and, in 2006 won the Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime contributions to the Thoroughbred industry. In recent years, she advocated for laminitis research and care advancement as well as efforts to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing.

A true ambassador for the sport of racing, she was a great advocate for the horses. As she put it, “The horse can’t talk – but I can.”


Potential Steeplechaser?

This maiden claiming race at Canterbury Park had more than its share of drama. One horse flipped in the gate and was scratched. A second horse bolted and ran off before getting caught and scratched. Tiz a Princess then reared and dropped her rider, but that wasn’t enough. Moments after the horses broke from the gate, Tiz a

Jockeys did a great job of avoiding the fallen jockey. Little did they know that they would have to avoid the mare when she jumped back in!

Princess took a sharp left toward the infield, losing her jockey again(!) and then jumped the rail.

But that wasn’t the end of it. As the horses headed into the far turn, Tiz a Princess jumped the rail again into the path of the oncoming runners. The jockeys on the leading horses, Jareth Loveberry on Razipat and Leslie Mawing on Battle Chic, anticipated an incident and slowed up their horses, altering course to avoid Tiz a Princess. The rest of the field slowed up as well.

Maybe Tiz a Princess should consider a career change. Steeplechasing might be a good choice.


Tapwrit wins the Belmont Stakes

Tapwrit Wins the Belmont Stakes

Tapwrit wins the Belmont Stakes
Tapwrit, ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Todd Pletcher, won the 149th Belmont Stakes.

There may not have been a Triple Crown winner this year, but Belmont stakes was an exciting race regardless, with Tapwrit closing in on Irish War Cry, who ran a strong race.

Tapwrit is only the second horse to win the Belmont from the #2 post position. He the tenth horse to have won the Belmont after running in the Kentucky Derby (Tapwrit finished 6th) and sitting out the Preakness.



Cloud Computing wins the Preakness

Any hopes for a Triple Crown this year were dashed when Amazing Dream faded at

Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing ridden by Jorge Castellano won the Preakness by a head.

the quarter pole. While Classic Empire looked like he had the race locked up, Cloud Computing rallied in the home stretch and caught Classic Empire, winning by a head. The colt had a picture-perfect ride by jockey Jorge Castellano, who stalked the leaders and waited for the pace to take their toll. Coming off of a six week rest, Cloud Computing charged around Amazing Dream (who faded to eighth).

Although Cloud Computing had qualified for the Kentucky Derby, trainer Chad Brown and owners Seth Klarman and William Lawrence decided to skip the chaos of the 20-horse Derby.

“Certainly, I’m not going to dispute the fact that I brought in a fresh horse as part of our strategy,” Brown said. “Our horse is very talented too. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two outstanding horses, and our strategy was, if we are ever going to beat them, let’s take them on two weeks’ rest when we have six [weeks], and it worked.”

Cloud Computing is lightly raced and prior to the Preakness won two out his four starts, never finishing off the boards.

Always Dreaming Wins the Kentucky Derby!

alwaysdreaming-ftr-gettyjpg_1bak9p7d3wukz1em0s7x2j895jThe first thing you notice about Always Dreaming and Johnny Valezquez is how clean they are. It’s an amazing accomplishment considering how sloppy the track was and how all the other horses and jockeys looked coming under the wire. That’s the benefit of a clean break and a skillful ride that kept them sitting pretty in second place until they were ready to make their move.

Staying up front was a good strategy. The beginning of the race had some bumper car moments and also the antics of Thunder Snow — seen bucking and spooking in the background right after the break. Reports have come back that TS is fine — he may never have run in the mud before and either didn’t like the footing or having mud thrown in hi face. Who can blame him?

Who will win the 2017 Kentucky Derby?

Screenshot 2017-05-05 21.36.36
Guess the Kentucky Derby winner by looking at their baby pictures!  Click on the photo to go the article.

With a 20-horse field, muddy conditions and no real “stand out” horses this year, the 2017 Derby is a bit of a toss up. The baby pictures are adorable, although there a few I wouldn’t have pegged for the kind of speed necessary to qualify for the Derby.

Here are a few interesting things about tomorrow’s runners.

Patch (named before he lost his eye) is the crowd favorite and underdog.

Girvin's shoe
Girvin is wearing a Victory Elite sport shoe shoe made of aluminum with a partial frog plate to relieve weightbearing. The area under and behind the quarter crack is “floated” to avoid pressure in that area. This shoe will be replaced with Polyflex glue-on plastic running shoes on Saturday before the race. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Raul Bras) Click on the photo to read Fran’s article.

Girvin, who is ridden by Mike Smith (the winner of today’s Kentucky Oaks) was a hot contender until he developed a quarter crack. Fran Jurga wrote an interesting article that describes how Girvin is being shod for the big race. He did win the Louisiana Derby (Patch was second) on April 1st, so it’s possible that the quarter crack won’t keep him down.

Girvin is named after the small town in Texas where owner Brad Grady grew up. Just 30 people live there. Maybe the horse will put the town on the map!

Gunnevera, is an interesting contender, having one four of his last seven starts, but his trainer has a rally interesting story. The horse would

Antonio Sano is the survivor of two kidnappings in his home-country of Venezuela, a story documented well by Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form (via The second time he was held for 36 days while his family and friends raised the ransom money. Sano purchased Gunnevera as a yearling for just $16K, a relative bargain for a Derby contender.

Irap wins the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on 4.8.2017.

Irap got his name when the yet- unnamed baby horse needed Interluekin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein therapy, a procedure commonly called IRAP. When a van driver saw the word “IRAP” on the papers, he assumed it was the horse’s name. It stuck.

Classic Empire
Classic Empire is known as a “Bad Boy” because he sometimes doesn’t want to play the game.

Classic Empire is known as “Racing’s Bad Boy.” Although he’s the current favorite, the colt has some quirks. Occasionally, he just doesn’t want to play the game. In 2016 he made a U-turn a few strides into the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, dumped his rider and then came to a dead stop. Twice he’s refused to break for timed workouts. So it all depends on how he feels tomorrow at 6:30!