HELEN “Penny” Chenery, owner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, who became a well-loved figure in her own right as a champion of Thoroughbreds and women in business and sports, died on Saturday, 16 September, in her Colorado home following complications from a stroke. She was 95. Penny’s children announced her death through Leonard Lusky, her longtime friend and business partner.
Following Secretariat’s retirement from racing, Penny became an ambassador for Thoroughbred racing and remained so even after the champion’s death in 1989. She served as the first female president of the US Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. She became one of the first women admitted to The Jockey Club, helped found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) and created the Secretariat Vox Populi Award annually honouring racing’s most popular horse, as well as the Secretariat Foundation, which assists and supports various charities within the racing community.
Penny received the 2006 Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime contributions to the Thoroughbred industry, and in recent years, she advocated for laminitis research and care advancement as well as efforts to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing.
Tributes have been paid to Geoff Wragg, the multiple Classic-winning trainer, who has died at the age of 87. The Newmarket trainer John Berry, a former mayor of the town, hailed Wragg as the “father figure of Newmarket trainers”.
During his first season after taking over the licence from his father, Harry, Wragg provided Lester Piggott with his ninth Derby success when saddling Teenoso to win the 1983 renewal of the Epsom showpiece. Twenty-three years later Wragg memorably came close to causing one of the biggest upsets in Derby history when his 66-1 shot Dragon Dancer was beaten a short head into second place by Sir Percy.
Another top-class performer was Pentire, who won six of his seven starts as a three-year-old in 1995, including the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Great Voltigeur at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. The following year he returned to Ascot to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Berry told At The Races: “Geoff always had a top horse and you could pretty much set your clock by him having something for Royal Ascot every year. He was an absolute gentleman and the father figure of Newmarket trainers. He’s been in very poor health and it was going to happen at some point, but it’s a very sad day and it leaves a big hole in the community.”