Penny Chenery Honored at Keeneland Memorial

Oct 9, 2017

Credit Stu Johnson

Lexington's Keeneland Monday hosted a memorial to a woman who made history in the horse industry. 

Family and friends gathered to honor Penny Chenery.

Peggy Chenery, who died less a month ago at age 95, is best known as the breeder and owner of Triple Crown winner Secretariat.  But, one of the video presentations during the event at Keeneland included Chenery reflecting on what she called her first moment in racing at the 1950 Kentucky Derby. 

“I was married, I was pregnant with my first child.  I was living in Colorado.  Dad had this very successful horse and I came to win the Derby,” said Chenery on the video.

The horse lost and Chenery said she cried, to which her father told her "Don't ever embarrass the horse."

There would be no embarrassment 23 years later when Triple Crown winner Secretariat gave a dominant performance.

Just prior to the service, long-time business associate, Leonard Lusky recalled when he and Chenery were in New York in 2015 as American Pharaoh broke the decades-old drought, winning the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont.

"Watching the race, I could tell it was like everyone, ‘wow it’s been 37 years.’  But, she turned to me and she said, but we still got the record.  She was still very proud of the 2:24 that probably might be there forever,” noted Lusky.

That’s the record finish time for Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. 

Touching tributes were given by Chenery’s daughter Kate Tweedy and her son John Tweedy who were among the list of nine speakers.