By Fred Hiers Staff writer Ocala.com
Published: Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 7:46 p.m.
There is no shortage of Secretariat stories.
Horse racing fans who watched the super horse win the Triple Crown at Belmont and exercise riders and jockeys who rode him or were beaten by him have contributed to the legend’s stature.
What’s been left out of many of those stories is Meadow Farm — the people who built it, the staff and the family that lived there and from which the great racehorse developed, said Kate Chenery Tweedy, author of “Secretariat’s Meadow” and daughter of Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat.
In her new coffee table book, which also includes never-before-published family photographs, Tweedy writes about how her family operated the Virginia farm through the Civil War and how the property managed not to get burned by Union soldiers; how her family lost the property in 1912; how her father bought it back in 1936; and how her family lost it again in the 1980s.
She writes about the people who kept the farm running — namely, descendants of slaves who had worked there 100 years before.
Tweedy, along with her mother, will host a Feb. 25 fundraiser for the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park at GoldMark Farm during a formal cocktail party and book-signing event. The $150 tickets include hors d’oeuvres from the Ocala Hilton, Tweedy’s autographed book and entertainment by a string quartet from the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. Also at the event will be equine artist and author Robert Clark.
Tweedy also includes in the book information left out of the 2010 Disney movie “Secretariat,” including her parent’s divorce after the Triple Crown victory and her grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease.
Also in attendance at the fundraiser will be Seattle Slew’s jockey, Jean Cruguet, and one of Secretariat’s exercise riders, Charlie Davis.
As for Secretariat’s hold on the American psyche, Chenery jokingly told the Star-Banner during a telephone interview she worked hard to keep the horse an icon.
“But we yearn for heroes that are uncomplicated and incorruptible, and horses fill that role,” she said.
Tweedy is hosting the fundraiser at no charge to the Horse Park.
“We try to do as much as we can … for horse racing,” Tweedy said. “We’ve been so blessed.”
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