Fan Club

Secretariat Festival 2018


The 2018 Secretariat Festival celebrating the 45th anniversary of Big Red’s Triple Crown championship is planned for Oct. 13-14 in the Lexington, Ky., area. The weekend will offer the opportunity for a picture-perfect autumn backdrop to share the legacy of Secretariat and showcase the Bluegrass region’s rich Thoroughbred heritage and exciting live racing at historic Keeneland Race Course.

The Festival remains committed to bringing fans together annually to celebrate the life and legacy of Secretariat. We realize we can never replace team members Penny Chenery, Charlie Davis and Bill Nack. They were very popular draws to the Festival, and losing them all in the course of one year requires some changes for a successful event. This year’s gathering will be an abridged, more streamlined version of the Secretariat Festival offered in years past while still featuring some of our favorite fan activities.

Kate Chenery Tweedy, Penny Chenery’s daughter and family historian, will be on hand throughout the weekend to welcome Festival-goers and share what it was like growing up as “Secretariat’s Sister!” And special Festival guests such as Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Maple who piloted both Secretariat and Riva Ridge for the mighty Meadow Stable, acclaimed racing journalist Steve Haskin and Meadow Stable hot walker Steve Jordan will also meet attendees and provide their own wonderful memories associated with Big Red.


FRIDAY, OCT. 12 – UPDATE: The Secretariat Festival kicks off at the Cross Gate Gallery, 509 E Main St. in downtown Lexington, for a preview of the planned Secretariat monument. This reception, with artist Jocelyn Russell and special guests Kate Chenery Tweedy and Steve Haskin at one of Lexington’s finest art galleries, offers Festival-goers a special advance peek of the larger than life Secretariat bronze statue scheduled to be installed in the fall of 2019.

SATURDAY, OCT. 13 – The festivities begin at The Thoroughbred Center, 3380 Paris Pike in the heart of horse country. The picturesque Center, located midway between Lexington and Paris, is a working Thoroughbred training facility complete with training tracks, starting gate, clocker’s stand and nearly 1,000 horses on the grounds at any given time. The Center is also home to the North American Racing Academy (NARA), America’s only accredited professional jockey school teaching the future stars of racing. Admission to Saturday’s Festival events is free with an option for several ticketed events:

  • Thoroughbred Training Center Tours – Enjoy behind-the-scenes experiences of the daily care and training of race horses. Tours include morning workouts, visits to the paddocks and barns, and meeting numerous industry professionals who will help share a typical day in the life of a Thoroughbred. Our recently added 10:30 am “Dust Commander” tour with jockey Mike Manganello will offer an extended stopover at the barn of 1970 Kentucky Derby winning trainer Don Combs. We are also delighted to offer personal visits throughout the day to the active shedrow of Gallery Racing Stable, who campaigned the popular sprinting champion Runhappy (the current resident stallion occupying Secretariat’s former stall at Claiborne Farm).
  • Claiborne Farm Tours – Reservations are now being accepted for tours of the famed breeding operation where Secretariat lived out his life as a stallion and is buried in his hallowed grave. New to the Festival this year will be our expanded access 8:00 am Legacy Tour with visits to the broodmare and foaling pastures as well as the famed Marchmont cemetery. This designated “Legends of the Turf” Tour will be co-hosted by Eddie Maple who rode Secretariat in his final start in the 1973 Canadian International. The 2018 renewal of that race coincidentally takes place the same day as our tour, making this opportunity a truly special one. General Stallion tours are also available at 10:15 am, 12:00 pm, and 1:15 pm with viewings including 2014 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, champion Blame, and the internationally accomplished stallion War Front among others.
  • Adena Springs Farm TourEnjoy this 11:00 am tour to one of Bourbon County’s most beautiful and renowned horse farms whose roster of distinguished stallions includes four Breeders’ Cup Classic winners: Awesome Again, Fort Larned, Ghostzapper, and 2013 Secretariat Vox Populi Award winner, Mucho Macho Man. This “Legends of the Turf” Tour will be co-hosted by Steve Haskin along with Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, a 12-time Breeders’ Cup winner, Kentucky Derby winner and Churchill Downs all-time leading rider.

And speaking of famous riders, racing celebrities and jockey signing appearances have become a Festival marquee event for autograph seekers of all ages. In addition to those mentioned above, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron joins our roster of esteemed Festival guests, who each will share their own personal racing experiences individually with fans.

The Festival also will feature all things Secretariat and a wide variety of official merchandise, racing-related products, and equine artwork. Throughout the day enjoy exhibitions from Kentucky artist Jaime Corum and Jocelyn Russell’s Secretariat Monument civic project; internationally acclaimed equine boot and apparel brand ARIAT pop-up boutique shop; visits to the active shedrow of Gallery Racing Stable, who campaigned the popular sprinting champion Runhappy (the current resident stallion occupying Secretariat’s former stall at Claiborne Farm); and NARA “Ride Like a Jockey” instructional demonstration. Additionally, returning Festival favorites include a silent auction of select items and racing memorabilia from the Secretariat/Meadow Stable Archives, Kentucky cuisine and many other special experiences. The end of the day offers Secretariat fans a 2018 Canadian International viewing after-party with Eddie Maple at the Embassy Suites Paddock Grill, 1801 Newtown Pike. And that is just the agenda for Saturday!

SUNDAY, Oct. 14 – The Festival migrates to Festival sponsor Keeneland Race Course, located at 4201 Versailles Road in Lexington. Founded in 1936, the historic race track and National Landmark hosts world-class racing twice annually in the spring and fall and is also the world’s largest and most prominent Thoroughbred auction house. In 2009, Keeneland’s timeless beauty also provided a picturesque location for the filming of Disney’s Secretariat. Now, more than eight decades since its inception Keeneland continues to represent the best in Thoroughbred racing and tradition.

  • Keeneland Backside Legends Tours – These 8:00 am, 9:00 am-SOLD OUT, and 10:00 am morning tours of the historic Keeneland grounds offer guests a view of the sport of horse racing rarely seen by the general public. Each guided walking tour co-hosted by one or more Hall of Fame jockeys includes watching morning workouts, visiting the active barn area, and a rare insider’s look at some of the nation’s leading stables as they make preparations for the race day. Tours last approximately one hour. Please check-in for tours at the South Gate Entrance in front of the Welcome Center.
  • Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility – This 1:45 pm offsite motor coach tour to the nearby equine haven will allow guests to meet some of America’s famous retired stallions including Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm and War Emblem as well as 2011 Secretariat Vox Populi Award winner Rapid Redux. This “Legends of the Turf” tour will be co-hosted by Kate Chenery Tweedy, Steve Haskin, Chris McCarron and personally guided by Old Friends founder Michael Blowen. Tour lasts approximately 2 hours.
  • Calumet Farm Tour UPDATE: Limited Seats Available – A very rare and select opportunity to tour the world famous farm and its hallowed cemetery where Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and Citation are buried. The 9:15 am offsite motor coach tour to this iconic neighboring farm on Versailles Road is renowned for its pastoral beauty and storied accomplishments in racing history. The “Legends of the Turf” Tour is co-hosted by Steve Haskin and lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

More Keeneland activities throughout this fun-filled family day include a meet and greet with Disney’s Secretariat actors Otto Thorwarth and Keith Austin, who portrayed jockeys Ron Turcotte and Laffit Pincay Jr. respectively in the popular motion picture; selfie opportunities with our virtual Secretariat; autograph session and Secretariat’s Meadow booksigning with Kate Chenery Tweedy; handicapping analysis and wagering tips from Kentucky Derby expert and author Bill Doolittle, and of course live racing with first post at 1:05 pm. . . and much, much more! Keeneland General Admission is $5.00.

The 2018 Secretariat Festival will be a charming and most memorable gathering for horse lovers of all ages and an event upon which we can build for the long term to ultimately share the region’s proud cultural horse heritage and celebrate racing’s most popular champion.




Oct. 12 – Secretariat Monument Preview Reception at Cross Gate Gallery Friday, Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 13 – Canadian International Viewing After-Party at Embassy Suites Paddock Grill, 1801 Newtown Pike begins 5:00 p.m.

Oct. 14 – Limited Seats Available for the Calumet Farm Tour departing Keeneland at 9:15 a.m.

Oct. 14 – Keeneland Backside Legends Tours will now include a stop at the Jockey Quarters. Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron will join the 10:00 a.m. tour.

If you are traveling to Lexington, a diverse selection of accommodations can be found in the area. The following hotels are convenient to all Festival events: Clarion Hotel Lexington, Griffin Gate Marriott, Ramada Lexington North Hotel, Days Inn Lexington, Fairfield Inn Lexington North, Embassy Suites Lexington, Four Points Sheraton Lexington, and Best Western Paris. Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, located across the road from Keeneland Race Course, is serviced by Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

The Secretariat Festival, which celebrates the life and legacy of the 1973 Triple Crown champion, launched in 2008 in Paris, Ky. In the decade since, thousands of attendees have gathered in the heart of the Bluegrass to toast the sport of racing and one of its most beloved champions. Proceeds from the event have benefited the area charities as well as the Secretariat Foundation, which is committed to funding equine-related causes that enhance the welfare of the Thoroughbred community. Updates for this year’s festivities and future announcements will be posted on the Secretariat Festival’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds.


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