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Multiple Choice, a great grandson of Secretariat, at the “Salute To Secretariat” Day at the VA State Fair. In the background is the yearling stall that once housed Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown Winner.

Covert Action and Multiple Choice, descendants of racing legend Secretariat, greeted visitors at the “Salute to Secretariat” Day on Friday, the opening day of the Virginia State Fair (Doswell). Covert Action, Secretariat’s grandson, and Multiple Choice, a great-grandson, were brought to The Meadow by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River (http://jamesriverhorses.com) and delighted admirers with their friendliness and inquisitiveness.

Leeanne Ladin, co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land, The Family, The Legend and equine director for Meadow Event Park, signed books and gave impromptu tours of Secretariat’s famous barns.

“The Meadows was an important horse farm long before Secretariat,” Ladin commented. “[Stable founder] Christopher Chenery believed broodmares were as important as sires and based his farm on that concept.”

The Yearling Barn, with Secretariat’s stall, is open for viewing, and visitors also can see the Stallion Barn, which is under reconstruction. Ladin stated that proceeds from the book sales will be used to fund restoration of this barn along with commemorative displays and signs throughout the estate. Ladin is lobbying to have The Meadows listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks “to honor the legacy of this great property,” she said.

Secretariat won the 1973 Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing, the only champion to break each track record in the series (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont). He was born, raised, and “learned the fundamentals of racing on the one-mile oval track across the road” at The Meadows, said Ladin.

“Secretariat transcended racing; he was a bright, shining star in blue and white racing silks with a ‘power pack’ of a large heart and incredible drive,” summarized Ladin.

“However,” she added with a smile, “Riva Ridge saved the farm.”

Only one year younger than Secretariat, Riva Ridge, “the forgotten champion of Meadow Stable,” won both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1972; his racing earnings provided the means for The Meadows to stay in operation. Ladin and Kate Chenery Tweedy detail his story in their new book, Riva Ridge: Penny’s First Champion.

Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat n

Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat, along with Multiple Choice, now enjoy their retirement at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River

If you missed meeting Secretariat’s offspring at the fair, they will return to Meadow Event Park for the Equine Extravaganza, Nov. 1–3. A new one-hour documentary, Penny and Red: The Life of Secretariat’s Owner, will premier Nov. 2. For more information and tickets, visit www.equineextravaganza.com.

The 2013 Virginia State Fair runs from Sept. 27–Oct. 6. Go to www.statefairva.org for fair information, schedule, and tickets. For information about the equine events at this year’s fair, read this post.