New Documentary Goes Behind The ‘Big Red’ Equestrian Legend


After Secretariat was foaled just past midnight on March 30, 1970, owner Penny Chenery reportedly took one look at the big chestnut colt and thought, “He is too pretty to be any good.”

Today, the image of the 3-year-old thoroughbred’s dominant 31-length victory at The Belmont Stakes race on Long Island—along with Ms. Chenery in a box seat, flailing her arms over her head after she watched her Big Red cross the finish line—will never be forgotten by fans of the sport. It was June 1973 and Secretariat had just won the first Triple Crown in nearly 25 years.

On Sunday, May 4—the day after this year’s Kentucky Derby—the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival will present the East Coast premiere of “Penny & Red: The Life of Secretariat’s Owner,” at 2:30 p.m. at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.

“The film reveals Ms. Chenery’s personal story, from the inside, as never before,” said film festival founder Jacqui Lofaro. “Often referred to as ‘the first lady of racing,’ she forged new roles for women in the sport of horse racing.”

Narrated by Diane Lane—who portrayed Ms. Chenery in Walt Disney Pictures’ “Secretariat” in 2012—the documentary includes previously unreleased family photos and footage, according to producer and director John Tweedy, who is Ms. Chenery’s son. The famous horse owner, now in her 90s, lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Former Newsday sports journalist William Nack—author of “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion”—will introduce the film at Bay Street Theater and participate in a Q&A with Mr. Tweedy following the screening. In his book, Mr. Nack recalled Secretariat as a “chivalrous prince of a colt who was playful and mischievous—he once grabbed my notebook out of my hand with his teeth, while I was talking to his groom … The older he got, it seemed, the more of a ham he became, and throughout his life he used to stop and pose whenever he heard the click of a camera.”

Admission to “Penny & Red: The Life of Secretariat’s Owner” is $15. For more information, call 725-9500 or visit

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