Secretariat's birthplace up for auction

Published: May. 14, 2012 at 10:01 PM EDT|Updated: May. 15, 2012 at 4:10 AM EDT
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HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - We are right in the middle of the height of horse racing season, with the Preakness set for this weekend. Only two horses have won the Triple Crown since Secretariat did it 39 years ago. But the birthplace of the best race horse in history, right up the road in Caroline County, faces an uncertain future.

The Meadow, the iconic farm that's the birthplace of Secretariat is in foreclosure, as part of the land formerly owned by the State Fair of Virginia. It's up for auction next Tuesday...with horse racing fans fearing the worst.

On the site in Doswell is the foaling shed where Secretariat was born, and other structures that housed the thoroughbred for the first 22 months of his life. Starting in 2003, the buildings were given a facelift, and ever since, they've been a horse racing lovers destination with thousands of people coming from all over the country to see them.

While the land is still zoned for recreational events, there are no guarantees that the new owners will keep up horse racing's hallowed ground. They can apply to get the land rezoned, and if they're successful, they don't have to keep the land as the site of the Virginia State Fair.

Leeanne Ladin wrote the book "Secretariat's Meadow" with the members of the family that owned the horse, the Chenerys.  Ladin said that thousands of fans will be up in arms if the buildings are not protected."He has left quite a legacy here and that's what we were very much hoping the new owner of the Meadow Event Park will certainly honor and protect that legacy and let people come here and see these wonderful historic buildings."

Penny Chenery, the 90 year old owner of Secretariat released a statement through Ladin, which in part reads, "We would like to make known our strong belief that any future owner should continue to respect and protect the iconic and irreplaceable structures and sites at The Meadow linked to Secretariat's legacy. We very much hope that any future owner will see the inherent value of returning The Meadow to its best use not only as the site of the State Fair of Virginia, but as a historic equine destination that no other state can claim... (Secretariat's) Virginia roots represent a singular legacy for our state, which any future owner of The Meadow should certainly appreciate."

Secretariat still has a strong influence on horse racing today. 16 of the 20 horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby can trace their bloodlines back to Secretariat.

The auction for the land is next Tuesday at the Manor House on site. The land has been assessed at $14 million.

Next year is the 40th anniversary of Secretariat's Triple Crown win. Horse lovers are hoping they can celebrate it at Meadow Event Park.

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