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Owner Penny Chenery is shown with Secretariat in a family photo displayed at Main Street Station in 2018.

With Secretariat’s 50th birthday one year away, the Secretariat Heritage Center has announced plans to celebrate the legacy of what many consider the greatest race horse in American history.

The center, located at Secretariat’s home barn in Caroline County, wants to elevate the site into a national heritage tourism destination and educational center.

To do so, the center hopes to raise $2.5 million in a national capital campaign. The campaign is being chaired by Kate Tweedy, the daughter of Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner.

“I think it’s really important to do this because we must celebrate our hometown heroes,” Tweedy said. “Secretariat brought the country together in ‘73. He is a symbol of excellence, he’s untouchable, and his records stand to this day.

“Like Justin Verlander and Arthur Ashe, he is Virginia.”

Secretariat was born at The Meadow in Caroline County in 1970, and went on to win horse racing’s Triple Crown.

The money from the campaign will help restore the original barns. A Hoofprints of History Trail is planned to link all the key points of interest on the property.

“We have very big plans,” Tweedy said. “It took a village to help Secretariat become one of the greatest athletes in sports history, so a lot of the individuals who used to work here bring back memorabilia from their time at the barn.

“We’re looking to get a life-size statue of Secretariat made, develop an educational program that pairs with local schools such as Randolph-Macon College and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and with ample security we’d like to bring back significant trophies from his reign.”

The goal of the campaign is to start the barn restorations in 2020, the year of Secretariat’s 50th birthday, and to have everything in place for the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown in 2023.

Contributions are being accepted at secretariatheritagecenter.org.

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