Secretariat/Bill Nack/Penny Chenery

The University of Colorado in Boulder, each year, for one week, hosts interesting speakers from around the world.  It’s called the Conference on World Affairs.  The topics range from politics to music to sport.  Friday we listened to Bill Nack author of “Secretariat, The Making of a Champion.” The recent Disney movie was based on this book.  The moderator of his presentation was Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, who now lives in Boulder.  Bill Nack is an engaging 70-year-old retired sports journalist who had covered Secretariat’s career.  He recounted his memorable moments with Secretariat, one being when he was asleep sitting just outside Secretariat’s stall.  He was awakened by Secretariat poking his head out of the stall and snuffling.  Just then a feather came floating down into Bill’s lap.  Secretariat had gotten a pigeon feather stuck on his muzzle and was relieving himself of it.  Bill carried that feather around in his wallet for years until his wallet was pickpocketed.  Bill also joked about how Secretariat was the greatest weight-bearing race horse of all time.  Especially because he had carried Bill for thirty-five years of Bill’s career.  Bill showed the three triple crown races that Secretariat won making him the first horse to do that since Citation in 1948.  We had been to a few presentations during the week on health care, presidential authority and the like that were all very information.  Audiences were very respectful and engaged.  But this audience cheered, whistled, clapped, laughed and cried watching the three races.  There’s definitely something about horses and their grandeur.  Bill felt that Secretariat’s Belmont record-breaking win that year by 31 lengths can be considered one of the greatest sport’s moments ever.

Questions were also asked of 89-year-old Penny Chenery.  Still sharp and articulate Penny was asked, “Did you wear  green at the races for good luck.”  Penny was a bit taken back by the question but quickly answered, “I wore green because I had a green dress.”  More seriously she was asked, “What advice can you give a woman trying to break into the racing world as a trainer.”  Her reply, “Forget you’re a woman.”  It was indeed a pleasure to see the proclaimed “First Lady of Racing” still as fiery as portrayed in the movie by Diane Lane.  If you are in the mood to be entertained and learn about the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all time both the book and the movie will fill that need.  Enjoy!


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