Penny Chenery, who bred and raced 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat as well as realizing her disabled father's dream to win the Kentucky Derby in 1972 with Riva Ridge, has died. She was 95.
Chenery died Saturday in her Boulder, Colorado, home following complications from a stroke, according to her children. They announced her death Sunday through Leonard Lusky, her longtime friend and business partner.
In 1973, Secretariat captured the imagination of racing fans worldwide when he became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. He won the last leg by a whopping 31 lengths.
The previous year, Riva Ridge won the Derby and Belmont Stakes.
Both colts were inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
The Tweedy family announced today that Helen “Penny” Chenery, owner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, died yesterday. She was 95. pic.twitter.com/JNp91XS3RI— Secretariat (@SECRETARIATofcl) September 17, 2017
We're heartbroken over the passing of the beloved, Penny Chenery, the epitome of class. Sending our condolences from NYRA. pic.twitter.com/BLifb6faFq— NYRA (@TheNYRA) September 17, 2017
Churchill Downs has released a statement on the passing of Penny Chenery:
“Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby family join all in Thoroughbred racing in mourning the passing of Penny Chenery. Fans embraced her as the owner of Secretariat, her legendary Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winner and American sports icon, along with her ongoing role as the protector of his legacy and lifelong supporter of causes that promote the health and welfare of retired Thoroughbreds. We at Churchill Downs also fondly recall her 1972 Kentucky Derby victory with Riva Ridge and other occasions when horses carried her famed blue-and-white blocked silks in races beneath our Twin Spires. Mrs. Chenery’s wonderful life had a deep and lasting impact on all in Thoroughbred racing and to countless individuals beyond our industry. If anyone ever deserved the title “First Lady of American Racing,” it was Penny Chenery, and our thoughts are with her family, friends and all who loved her.”
Statement from Keeneland on passing of Penny Chenery
Keeneland joins the Thoroughbred community worldwide in mourning the passing of Penny Chenery. Mrs. Chenery exemplified the very best of our sport, serving as one of its most beloved and passionate ambassadors. She was a generous owner, tirelessly sharing the legacy of her great Triple Crown winner, Secretariat, with generations of fans that extended far beyond racing. Keeneland is honored to have played a role in the movie Secretariat, and to remember her 1972 Blue Grass Stakes winner Riva Ridge. We are thankful for her extraordinary contributions to racing, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends.
-- Bill Thomason, President and CEO, Keeneland
"Penny Chenery was a beloved icon of Thoroughbred racing. We are honored by the support she has shown the Kentucky Derby Museum, the continued devotion of our visitors to 1972 Kentucky Derby winner Riva Ridge and 1973 Triple Crown champion Secretariat and the ongoing privilege of keeping her legacy and contributions alive within our walls and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones at this difficult time."
-Patrick Armstrong, Kentucky Derby Museum President & CEO