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Secretariat Festival 2019

SECRETARIAT FESTIVAL – Oct. 12-13, Keeneland Race Course

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The 2019 Secretariat Festival, celebrating the unveiling of the Lexington, Kentucky Secretariat Bronze Monument, is planned for Oct. 12-13 and will be based at beautiful Keeneland Race Course. The weekend will offer a picture-perfect autumn backdrop where fans can gather to share the legacy of Secretariat and experience the Bluegrass region’s rich Thoroughbred heritage and live racing at one of Kentucky’s legendary racetracks.

The Festival remains committed to bringing fans together annually to celebrate the life and legacy of Secretariat. Over the years, the event has evolved to emphasize fan favorites and adapted after the passing of Penny Chenery, Jim Gaffney, Charlie Davis and Bill Nack — all who contributed to the Secretariat legacy and had been a focal points of the event. One thing that has not changed is our commitment to celebrate the legendary 1973 Triple Crown winner as well as provide fans with a unique opportunity to experience equine-related activities and access to the sport of horse racing.

This year’s renewal will be highlighted by the debut of the Secretariat Monument commissioned by the city of Lexington and created by famed equine artist Jocelyn Russell. The larger-than-life size depiction of Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby with Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte aboard will be installed at one of city’s roundabouts but only after it is previewed to the public during the Festival — and toasted by Secretariat’s biggest fans! Ron Turcotte is expected to attend the Festival this year along with Kate Chenery Tweedy, Penny Chenery’s daughter and family historian. Together, they will welcome Festival-goers throughout the weekend. Other special guests, such as Marvin Moorer, former groom and son of Eddie Sweat, Disney’s Secretariat actor/jockey Otto Thorwarth, 92-year-old esteemed veterinarian Dr. Robert Copelan who treated Secretariat in 1973, and acclaimed racing journalist Steve Haskin are expected to be on site to greet attendees and provide their own wonderful memories of Big Red and that magical 1973 Triple Crown season.

Jockey appearances and signing sessions have become a Festival marquee event and a dream destination for autograph seekers of all ages. In addition to Hall of Famer Turcotte, other riders expected to attend this year include famed Kentucky Derby winning riders Chris McCarronMike Manganello, Craig Perret as well as Triple Crown winning jockey Jean Cruguet — all who will share their personal racing experiences individually with fans.

 

FRIDAY, OCT. 11 – Plans are in the works for an evening kickoff party. It will be a casual get-together to visit with old friends and meet new ones and to share fan stories and tales of affection for Secretariat. Keep checking back here for more information.

SATURDAY, OCT. 12Keeneland Race Course, 4201 Versailles Road in Lexington – Founded in 1936, the historic race track and National Landmark hosts world-class racing during its spring and fall meets 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. Live racing begins at 1:05 p.m. with $5 general admission.

Secretariat Festival activities will be located at the Sales Pavilion’s Limestone Cafe near the Grandstand entrance. Festival admission is free and will allow access to onsite Festival activities including the greatly anticipated public debut of the Secretariat Bronze Monument with unveiling ceremony to take place outside the Sales Pavilion entrance at approximately 10:45 a.m. Following the unveiling, guests will have several opportunities to see its craftsmanship up close and take photographs of this masterpiece — maybe even a selfie with one of the Festival’s celebrities!

Guests will again have the much-anticipated opportunity to participate in our special Secretariat Festival Tours. Please click on the links below for prices and reservations for Saturday’s tours: 

  • Keeneland Backside Legends Tours – These 8:00 and 9:15 a.m. morning tours of the historic Keeneland grounds offer guests a view 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 tour at the Welcome Desk at the Sales Pavilion main entrance. 
  • Claiborne Farm Tours – Reservations are now being accepted for offsite tours of the famed breeding operation where Secretariat lived out his life as a stallion and is buried in his hallowed grave. Enjoy the Festival’s expanded access Legacy Tour departing Keeneland via motor coach at 1:30 p.m., 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 Steve Haskin and return to Keeneland by 4:00 p.m. For those who choose to visit Claiborne on their own, Stallion tours only are also available at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., with opportunities to see  2014 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, champion Blame, and the internationally accomplished stallion War Front among others. Stallion tours last approximately one hour. Please check in for Legacy Tour at the Welcome Desk at the Sales Pavilion main entrance.
  • Lane’s End Farm TourNew to the Festival is a visit to one of the Bluegrass region’s most prestigious farms to see A.P. Indy, the venerable 30-year-old grandson of Secretariat as well as his son and promising young stallion Honor Code and a star-studded lineup that includes 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, 2000 Eclipse Award winner Lemon Drop Kid, and 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Other prolific sires standing at Lane’s End include Candy Ride and Mineshaft as well as newcomer City of Light. This 1.5-hour “Legends of the Turf” Tour will be co-hosted by Steve Haskin and will depart via motor coach from Keeneland at 8:45 a.m. and return at 10:30 a.m. — in the time to enjoy the Secretariat Monument unveiling.

Saturday Festival Forums will offer fans access to discussions with our special guests along with the opportunities to ask questions and hear insiders’ experiences of Big Red. Forums will take place in the separate seating space adjacent to the main domed area of the Limestone Cafe.

  • A Chat with the Artist – Meet Secretariat Monument artist Jocelyn Russell, who will provide the fascinating backstory about the making of this historical bronze sculpture. Approximately 45 minutes, beginning at 1:30 p.m. with Q&A session to follow.
  • Treating Secretariat – Meet the esteemed Kentucky equine veterinarian Dr. Robert Copelan, who sheds light on the circumstances surrounding Secretariat’s abscess that led to his loss in the Wood Memorial and his subsequent treatment leading up to the 1973 Kentucky Derby. Approximately 45 minutes, beginning at 2:30 p.m. with Q&A session to follow.

 

SUNDAY, Oct. 13The Festival continues at Keeneland for a second day of activities, including autograph sessions,  public viewing of the Secretariat Bronze Monument, and another afternoon of live racing. More of our special Secretariat Festival Tours are scheduled for Sunday. Please click on the links below for prices and reservations:

  • Keeneland Backside Legends ToursThese 8:00 a.m., 9:15 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. morning tours of the historic Keeneland grounds offer guests a view 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 Welcome Desk at the Sales Pavilion main entrance.
  • Calumet Farm Tour – 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  motor coach tour to this iconic neighboring Versailles Road farm, renowned for its pastoral beauty and storied accomplishments in racing history, departs at 9:30 a.m. This “Legends of the Turf” Tour is co-hosted by Steve Haskin and Kate Tweedy lasts approximately 1.5 hours. Please check in for tour at the Welcome Desk at the Sales Pavilion main entrance.
     

Sunday Festival Forums continue in the seated area adjacent to the main Festival activities in the Limestone Cafe. Enjoy our special guests along with the opportunities to ask questions and hear their unique insight and experiences.

  • Remembering Eddie SweatMarvin Moorer, son of Eddie Sweat, will share memories of the legendary groom to both Secretariat and Riva Ridge. Approximately 45 minutes, beginning at 1:00 p.m. with Q&A session to follow. 
  • Disney’s Secretariat, Fact and FictionRon Turcotte along with Kate Tweedy, Steve Haskin, and Disney’s Secretariat actor Otto Thorwarth, who portrayed Ron in the popular motion picture, will talk about the differences between the silver screen portrayal and the actual events.  Approximately 60 minutes, beginning at 2:00 p.m. with Q&A session to follow.

 

THROUGHOUT BOTH DAYS – The Festival also will feature all things Secretariat and a wide variety of official merchandise and racing-related products. Horse lovers and art enthusiasts will enjoy viewing the Cross Gate Gallery’s Sporting Art Auction selection of some of the world’s finest equine-related original paintings within the Sales Pavilion interior, all of which will be auctioned later in the fall. Additionally, acclaimed Kentucky artist Jaime Corum will showcase her newest works. 

A perennial favorite, the Secretariat Festival Silent Auction features select items from the Secretariat/Meadow Stable Archives, including photography hand-signed by Penny Chenery herself and other special racing memorabilia.

This year’s event also provides the special opportunity  to celebrate the “9”s and pay tribute to some important racing anniversaries including: viewing and selfies with Majestic Prince’s original 1969 Kentucky Derby solid gold owner’s trophy; book signing and meet-and-greet with Jennifer Kelly, author of Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown, focusing on the 1919 champion; silent auction of an original and incredibly rare uncashed 1999 Kentucky Derby winning ticket for Charismatic, autographed by the late jockey Chris Antley.

And of course enjoy live racing on both Saturday and Sunday with first post at 1:05 p.m daily. General admission is $5 with reserved seating and dining options also available.

The 2019 Secretariat Festival will be a charming and most memorable gathering for horse lovers of all ages to share the region’s proud horse heritage and celebrate racing’s most popular champion.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE FESTIVAL MERCHANDISE, FARM TOURS AND TICKETED EVENTS

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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