Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s historic Triple Crown of 1973, a majestic bronze monument entitled “Secretariat – Racing into History #2/2” by renowned sculptor Jocelyn Russell may be placed in the Town of Ashland. At 21 feet long and 11.5 feet tall, this is the largest sculpture of Secretariat in existence, dramatically illustrating the Virginia-born champion’s larger-than-life presence as an equine athlete and American icon.
On Tuesday, February 21, the Town of Ashland and Randolph-Macon College entered into a lease agreement on a location for the monument on the R-MC campus next to the CSX train tracks, across from the Ashland-Hanover Visitors Center.
The effort to bring the monument to Ashland is being led by Secretariat for Virginia (SECVA), a committee made up of Ashland residents, fundraisers, and historians. Per the lease signed by the Town and college, when and if funds are raised by the Secretariat for Virginia Committee to purchase the monument, R-MC has agreed to lease the selected property to the Town. Once the monument is in place, the Town and college will share fiduciary responsibilities for the maintenance of this public artwork.
"Secretariat is a beloved American figure, and the Town of Ashland is very proud of our connection to him and the Chenery family,” said Steve Trivett, Mayor of the Town of Ashland. “We are pleased to join Randolph-Macon College in presenting an accessible, high-visibility placement for this impressive work of art. Secretariat will bring long-term tourism benefits and further enhance our town motto as the Center of the Universe."
"Randolph-Macon College deeply values our long-standing ties to the Chenery family, many of whom attended RMC, and with Meadow Stable,” said Robert Lindgren, RMC president. “This magnificent monument to Secretariat will be an exciting attraction for the public on our campus next to downtown Ashland, and an excellent reminder of the equine history of this region."
The Chenery family who owned and raced the legendary Thoroughbred has deep ties to Ashland. Christopher Chenery grew up in Ashland, attended Randolph-Macon College, and in 1936 founded Meadow Stable in nearby Caroline County where Secretariat was born in 1970. His daughter, Penny Chenery, who managed Secretariat’s spectacular career, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the college in 2011. Her daughter, author/speaker Kate Chenery Tweedy, a resident of Ashland, is leading the civic group.
“Secretariat's story truly would come full circle if the monument is placed in Ashland," said Ms. Tweedy. "How fitting it would be to see this happen during this milestone Triple Crown anniversary."
“I have always wanted this second edition of “Secretariat – Racing into History” to come home to Virginia,” said Ms. Russell. “This is literally where his history started.” The first version of the monument was placed in Lexington, Kentucky in 2019. If the funding goals are met, this would be the first and only monument to Secretariat in Virginia.
The cost of the Secretariat monument is $550,000, including transportation to the site. Installation and landscaping are additional costs, for which the group hopes to obtain in-kind contributions. SECVA is accepting pledges online and donations through the Ashland Museum, also a partner in the project.
On April 1st, residents and visitors alike are invited to a celebration and unveiling of the monument, which will travel to Ashland as part of a nationwide tour. Once funding is secured to purchase the monument, it will return to Ashland for permanent installation.
For more information visit the SECVA website or contact the committee at Info@SecretariatForVirginia.com.
(Above photo L to R: Bob Lindgren, Randolph-Macon College, Kate Tweedy, Secretariat for Virginia, Josh Farrar, Ashland Town Manager, Steve Trivett, Mayor of Ashland.)