Remembering the real Secretariat

Kate Chenery‘s childhood was an adventure: Her mom Penny Chenery Tweedy — still kicking at 89 — owned 1973’s Triple Crown winner Secretariat. We talked to her at Gulfstream Park last weekend, while she was promoting the DVD release of Secretariat, the movie about Big Red’s amazing victory.

How was seeing the movie?

It made me sit on the edge of my seat even though we all knew what would happen. The racing scenes practically had me on the horse with dirt flying into my goggles. Diane Lane so well captured Mom’s mannerisms, inflections, even her walk, that it was almost eerie.

So it brought back memories?

The races, the clothes and the political events of the time. I didn’t relate as much to the family scenes, since the house was much more modern and fancier than ours, and we didn’t have a swimming pool.

Your mother had a cameo; did you?

Yes, I am in the stands cheering for the Belmont Stakes, in the box behind and to the left of Diane. I play the wife of Howard Keck, one of the investors. I had always wanted to be an extra, and so I was tickled to be included. When they asked if I thought I could act, I said, `Hey, I was there.’ I remember how thrilling the actual race was.

What did you think of the horse who played Big Red?

Trolley Boy was the winner of a lookalike contest judged by Mom. He is pretty close to the original. Interestingly, he is half-Quarter Horse, and Secretariat himself was always a little reminiscent of one anyway, with his huge chest and hindquarters.

What was the real animal like?

He showed so much brilliance, speed and heart that I realized he was as great an athlete as he was beautiful.


Thanks for checking out our new site! We’ve changed a ton of stuff, and we’d love to know what you think.
Email feedback