Virginia town set to dedicate Secretariat monument

Ashland pays permanent tribute to its homegrown Triple Crown legend

The town of Ashland, Virginia, located about 20 miles north of the state capital, has proclaimed March 30 “Secretariat Day.” And while it’s not unusual for locals to celebrate the 1973 Triple Crown winner’s birthday—the superhorse was, after all, foaled in nearby Doswell—this year’s celebration will be more “monumental” than ever.

The main event is the long-awaited dedication ceremony for the massive bronze “Secretariat Racing Into History,” by sculptor Jocelyn Russell, on the downtown campus of Randolph-Macon College. This stunning 3,800-pound artwork, which depicts Secretariat in his final Triple Crown race, was viewed far and wide last summer during a tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of his record-setting achievement. Acquired through a fundraising campaign headed by The Secretariat For Virginia (SECVA) Committee and the Ashland Museum, Russell’s creation is particularly meaningful to the Virginia horse community because it is the only public monument of Secretariat in his home state.

A cultural phenomenon

A powerful Thoroughbred racehorse who became nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, Secretariat (Bold Ruler-Somethingroyal, by *Princequillo) was foaled on March 30, 1970 at Meadow Stable, whose founder, Christopher Chenery, grew up in Ashland. As a 3-year-old Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in times so fast they have yet to be beaten. His unforgettable sweep, capped off by a jaw-dropping 31-length victory in the Belmont, ended a 25-year Triple Crown drought. It remains to this day one of the most spectacular moments in sports history.

As a nod to Secretariat’s roots, sculptor Russell sprinkled sand from the old Meadow Stable training track onto the site of the monument’s eventual installation during the Feb. 7 groundbreaking ceremony. According to Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery and chair of the SECVA, the monument’s base also contains sand from Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont, the sites of his greatest triumphs.

“Secretariat was the people’s horse,” Tweedy remarked, according to the SECVA’s February newsletter. “So we wanted him to be accessible to his fans and not perched high up on a granite pedestal.” 

Schedule of events

Shops around Ashland are already flying Meadow Stable’s famous blue-and-white colors in anticipation of the March 30 celebration.

Image from Secretariat For Virginia website

There will be exhibitors, vendors and live music, with downtown shops and restaurants offering Secretariat-themed specials. All festivities are free. Here is the schedule of events:

11 am – 1:30 pm: Ashland Theatre—free showing of “Secretariat” movie with welcome by Kate Chenery Tweedy and sculptor Jocelyn Russell

11 am – 4 pm: Randolph-Macon Parking Lot—live music by local musicians, food trucks, local vendors and exhibits including a time capsule with a scroll for fans to sign for Secretariat Day; also a “Kiddie Corral” with crafts, real jockey silks, racing items and more 


Randolph-Macon parking lot and Secretariat Reynolds Family Plaza 

Ceremonial “Call to Post” by bugler

Guest speakers

Special Performance by Bubba Johnson and the Second Zion Baptist Church Gospel Choir

Ribbon-cutting for “Secretariat Racing Into History” 

Secretariat birthday cake and cupcakes 

Photo ops and festivities continue 

2:30 pm – 3 pm (part of ceremony) Bubba Johnson and Mt. Zion Baptist Choir—Members of this esteemed choir have roots stemming back to working directly with Secretariat. They will help celebrate the day with inspirational songs honoring the unveiling of the statue.

3:15 -3:45 pm: Ashland Theatre—Jocelyn Russell and Kate Tweedy speak on “The Secretariat Monument’s Journey to Ashland”

4 pm: Secretariat dedication event concludes

Livestream Available

If you cannot attend the event in person, the Virginia Equine Alliance plans to livestream all the action on the Virginia Horse Racing YouTube Channel. For more information about Secretariat Day and the monument dedication, visit the Secretariat for Virginia website.

Landing page photo by Laurel Scott




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