Secretariat’s Meadow has been named as one of three finalists in the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award competition for the best book about Thoroughbred racing in 2010. Here is what Thoroughbred Times, who co-sponsors the award, said about our book:
“Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of racing’s first lady, Penny Chenery, has proven herself a writer of no small talent. With co-author Leeanne Ladin, she has produced in Secretariat’s Meadow a sweeping, lush account of several generations of Chenerys and of their famed Virginia acreage known as “The Meadow.” In tracing family lore back some 200 years, she deftly navigates tragedies and triumphs, including the point in 1972 when The Meadow was in danger of being sold out of the family. While Secretariat’s Meadow is a powerfully good cover-to-cover read, this audience will be most interested in Tweedy’s bird’s-eye take on the great red champion himself, of living alongside and in the moment of that “image of equine perfection etched across the sky.” Well written, crafted, and illustrated, this is more than your standard coffee-table book. The movie was good. This is even better.”
The winner will be announced on April 13.
We have been enormously gratified by the professional reviews and endorsements the book has received by noted turfwriters, book critics and even some of Big Red’s closest connections.
Wiliiam Nack, author of “Secretariat – The Making of a Champion:”
“Beginning with the days of Thomas Doswell and the creation of Bullfield Farm in early 19th century Virginia and running through Christopher T. Chenery’s founding of The Meadow Farm in Doswell and the dynasty that produced the mighty Secretariat, Kate Tweedy and Leeanne Ladin take the reader on a romantic journey filled with stories about the people and the horses who turned this land into a flourishing mecca of Thoroughbred breeding. Well written and beautifully illustrated with a gallery of old prints and photographs, Secretariat’s Meadow is an artful contribution to the history of the America turf.”
Ron Turcotte, Hall of Fame jockey and regular rider for Riva Ridge and Secretariat:
“Many books and articles have been written about Secretariat but what makes Secretariat’s Meadow unique is that instead of all those dry statistics, it gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at all the human interest stories from the family’s own perspective. It is a book well worth reading and for me, it brought back many a fond memory. During my years of riding for Meadow Stable, I always appreciated how effective their training was on the farm. When they came to the track, their horses were always in excellent physical shape and very well behaved.”
Edward L. Bowen, turf journalist and author of 19 books on Thoroughbred racing:
“Kate has done a great thing for her family and for anyone else who reads this. It is quite an inspiring saga. I don’t think I ever got to know my own father this well, let alone a grandfather!”
The late Jim Gaffney, Secretariat’s exercise rider:
“I am thrilled and honored to have been a part of Secretariat’s life and I feel I have been touched by greatness.It is fitting that the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse of all time is having the skilled and dedicated workers who were with him tell their stories of his early days at The Meadow. Kate Tweedy and Leeanne Ladin have done a marvelous job of putting together a book about Secretariat’s birthplace.”
Dell Hancock, Claiborne Farm, Paris, Kentucky, where Secretariat stood at stud:
“The Hancock and Chenery families have been associated over more than a century, and our common bonds include a love of the Thoroughbred and a respect for the land. Kate Tweedy’s eloquence in Secretariat’s Meadow captures those feelings as she creates a fitting tribute to the remarkable Mr. Chenery and his family.”
Diane Lane, award-winning actress who played Penny Chenery in the movie Secretariat:
“Finally, here is The Definitive Book on everything one would ever crave knowing about Secretariat’s history, experience and humanity. Beautifully thorough, fulfilling and compelling, this book is every fan’s delightful satisfaction. A treasure-trove of accuracy and great heart. Ms. Tweedy’s book lives up to the great legacy and gives us the ‘behind the scenes’ we’ve all been waiting for.”
Frank Mitchell, Daily Racing Form:
“Clearly I need a coffee table. Although I don’t drink coffee often and generally despise coffee tables as useless furniture, I surely need one of the things.
How else is one to display the new book about Secretariat and his origins, Secretariat’s Meadow?
It is a lovely book, full of color and character, and of course, there are many photos of His Chestnut Perfection. What more could anyone ask?
As a piece of turf literature, Secretariat’s Meadow is largely anecdotal in arrangement, with each brief chapter working as a snapshot in the greater picture that authors Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Ladin are building with the book.
As the title suggests, the book has a good deal to say about Secretariat, the favorite racehorse for millions of fans of the sport and the greatest of the many excellent racehorses that Christopher Chenery and The Meadow produced and sent onto the racecourses of America.
But the book has quite a lot to tell us about the heritage of the Chenerys, the development of The Meadow, and the history of Virginia as a nursery of racehorses and racing.
For instance, there is a chapter on Bullfield, which bred and raced the great 19th century champion Planet and was located near The Meadow in Doswell, Virgina. Likewise, another important and very old Virginia family in racing is the Hancock family, now normally associated with breeding in Kentucky.
But the Hancocks were first and foremost a Virginia family, raising blooded horses on the family plantation, until the eldest Arthur Hancock developed Claiborne in the early 20th century. And the Hancocks did not sell their Ellerslie Farm in Virginia until the 1940s.
One of the last stallions who went to stud at Ellerslie was the imported horse Princequillo, and the stallion’s first champion was Hill Prince, bred by Christopher Chenery. Hill Prince was the second stakes winner of five from Chenery’s great producer Hildene. A top-class horse over four seasons of racing, Hill Prince won the Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Wood Memorial at 3, when he was elected Horse of the Year.
Hill Prince elevated his owner-breeder to a level of great significance in racing and breeding, going to stand at stud in Kentucky at Claiborne. These are the sorts of stories about great deeds done well that we expect to find in a book like this.
Some of the nuggets in Secretariat’s Meadow, however, are less expected. The chapter on the African-American grooms was insightful about the farm and those who made it work. Told in words and photos, their story is a contribution to The Meadow’s success.
Through the sweep of decades as the story of The Meadow unfolds, there is a sense of sentiment and tradition that builds to the great conclusion. After the work and improvements and success of Christopher Chenery, his death nearly undid the farm. Only the arrival of Riva Ridge and Secretariat, then their syndication for stud, recouped the cash necessary to save the farm and allow the operation to continue for a time.
It makes a grand and moving story and is told with warmth. Beautifully illustrated and produced, Secretariat’s Meadow is a pleasure for readers and fans of racing.”
Thoroughbred Daily News:
“Secretariat’s Meadow is an informative rags-to-riches story, rooted in reality and historical fact…Tweedy leaves no stone unturned in her pursuit to provide an accurate account of what happened at Meadow Stable, before and after Secretariat’s birth…(Secretariat’s Meadow)…benefits enormously by coming from a direct family source, with the series of illustrations and photographs enhancing the overall reading experience. It will ensure that the Chenery family, and their affiliation with Secretariat, will remain etched in the memory for years to come.”
“Kate Chenery Tweedy has produced a very fitting tribute not only to Secretariat, but to her late grandfather Christopher Chenery, her mother Penny Chenery, and everybody who had a part in the success of the Meadow Stable, especially the many African-American grooms who worked at the farm. This book is strongly recommended to racing fans especially history aficionados, as it tells such an important story of the American turf. Secretariat fans who could tell his story on their own will truly enjoy Tweedy’s first-hand account, as someone fortunate to have personally witnessed greatness in her family, their farm, and their horses.”
Sacramento Book Review (Sacramento, CA) –
“Here is a heartwarming overview of a racing dynasty that produced one of, if not the most famous thoroughbred racing horse of all time – Secretariat. This coffee table-sized, visually appealing book focuses on the history of the Chenery family and their meadow, the Virginia breeding farm where many top thoroughbreds got their start. From the Civil War-era to the 1970s when Secretariat became their Triple Crown winner, the stories and photos of the family and their farm are unique and fascinating, sure to appeal to history buffs, horse breeders, and just plain horse lovers everywhere. One enlightening chapter is devoted to the African-American stable hands who did everything from mucking out stalls to training the colts, to working as exercise jockeys, to handling valuable breeding stallions (often not an easy task), and finally, to being head groom and companion to the big red horse that captured not only a nation, but the world.
Midwest Book Review:
“Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend is a gorgeous coffee table book, illustrated throughout with black-and-white and color photography and images, detailing the history behind the famous Triple Crown-winning racehorse Secretariat, his birthplace, and the family that raised and raced him. The genesis of the modern racehorse legend and the people responsible for his care stretches back hundreds of years, but Secretariat’s Meadow especially focuses upon Christopher Chenery, who masterminded the transformation of a humble farm into the genesis of a legendary champion. Any reader with an avid interest in the history of championship horse racing is sure to delight in this accessible, insightful, and candid tour.”