Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River News

Secretariat Birthday Celebration At The Meadow Set For March 24-26

Secretariat following the 1973 Kentucky Derby

From Paulick Report
It's been 47 years since legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat was born at The Meadow in Caroline County, Virginia on March 30, 1970. Today his historic birthplace is the celebration destination for legions of devoted fans who wish to remember the great racehorse and meet members of the Meadow Stable team he took on the ride of their lives. The annual Secretariat Birthday Celebration takes place March 24-26 at the Meadow Event Park in conjunction with the Virginia Horse Festival.

Slated to join the birthday festivities are Charlie Davis, Secretariat's entertaining exercise rider; Otto Thorwarth, professional jockey and actor who portrayed Ron Turcotte in the Disney film “Secretariat;” and Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery and co-author of the award-winning Secretariat's Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend with Leeanne Meadows Ladin.

Highlights of the weekend program include:

• Meet and greet with Groundshaker, resident Secretariat great-great granddaughter, and Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat and “spokeshorse” for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River

• Mia, the resident miniature horse, who will be decked out like a “Little Big Red”

• “BARN APPETIT” farm-to-fork dinner designed by acclaimed chef Jason Alley of Pasture Restaurant, highlighting local artisan foods and craft beverages with a special surprise

• “Big Red on the Big Screen” – a showing of the Disney movie “Secretariat” with commentary by the Secretariat Team

• Narrated tours of Meadow Hall showcasing the Chenery Collection of rare Meadow Stable artifacts

• Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Groundshaker's new barn with some exciting announcements for the Secretariat tour program

• Photo ops at the “World's Largest Horseshoe,” a giant 600-lb. replica of Secretariat's racing shoe located by his historic yearling barn

• An extensive selection of official Secretariat merchandise in the Exhibit Hall and more

The Secretariat Birthday Celebration, a collaboration with of Louisville, KY, is a major highlight of the Virginia Horse Festival, which celebrates horses and riding disciplines of all types. Fans can enjoy three days of clinics and demonstrations with top clinicians such as Guy McLean; a parade of breeds; 60,000 square feet of indoor shopping for all horse lovers; and much more.

Tickets for the festival and Secretariat birthday events are now on sale. See for complete ticket information and the full program schedule. And follow the Secretariat's Meadow Facebook page for more updates on the birthday activities.

The Meadow Event Park is located off I-95 at exit 98 (Doswell) 1.5 miles east of King's Dominion theme park.

Secretariat's birthplace at The Meadow is now listed on the state and national historic registers and offers year-round narrated tours. See for more information.

   Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Featured in the "The Wound and the Gift"   

Our program was featured in a film recently, The Wound and the Gift, stories about what rescued animals give back to us. Enjoy this three minute clip from the film.

To view the clip go to The Wound and the Gift TRF Clip

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Directions to the James River Work Center from Richmond:
Take State Route 6 West for approximately 21 miles to State Farm, Virginia; there will be a sign for the institution. The Center is about 2 to 3 miles west of the town of Crozier. (State Route 6 is Patterson Avenue which becomes River Road West).

Ollie certainly brought a smile to one visitor's face at our Spring Open Barn. He is one of the rescues from Peaceable Farm and thoroughly enjoys his new life meeting so many wonderful supporters of our program. Photo by Debby Thomas

Derby hats galore at the annual Kentucky Derby party held this year at the Deep Run Hunt Club. A break in the rain allowed us to enjoy the patio and lovely view of the hunter trials field. Photo by Debby Thomas

Delegate Peter Farrell, who represents Goochland, Louisa and Henrico, presented a General Assembly resolution commending the TRF's Second Chances program at the James River Work Center during the spring Open Barn. Accepting the resolution are chapter president, Stephanie Nixon, past-president, Robin Williams, and Dr. Tom Newton.

The Winner's Circle Award for an outstanding contribution to Thoroughbred Aftercare was presented to Dr. Virginia DeChant at the Fall Open Barn. Dr. DeChant has been going to the barn every Tuesday for years to teach the men veterinary topics. Presenting the award are Dr. Tom Newton and chapter president Stephanie Nixon.

This video by Washington Post reporter, Alice Li, shows what the James River program has meant to some of the men who have been part of this Second Chances program. Click For Video

Covert Action is showing extreme interest in the check being presented to Anne Tucker by Lisa Pumphrey of Lickinghole Creek Brewery. A nice donation was made to the James River chapter from the proceeds of the Kentucky Derby party held at the brewery. Fearnought, the beer made especially for this party and named for the famous Colonial-era sire, was a big hit and is still available at the brewery.

The Spring Open Barn on Sunday, April 26, was full of inspiration and positive energy as visitors heard from the men about what the horses and the program have meant to them. Janet Herter, CFO of TRF, traveled from Saratoga Springs, NY, to share an apple with Decathlete and meet the many volunteers who make this program so successful. We thank everyone for sharing the beautiful day with us.

Toasty makes a new friend at the Spring Open Barn held on April 26, 2015. It was a wonderful day for the horses and the men, who love to greet so many visitors.

Maggie Phipps, from the 4H group Huguenot Show Hunters, presented $250 that the girls had raised to Jennifer Ernst and Anne Tucker to be used toward the care of Jonathon's Gal (JG). Jason had JG looking her best for the presentation.

Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat, enjoyed making new friends at the State Fair of Virginia on the 25th anniversary of the passing of the great Secretariat. Photo courtesy of Joe Allred.

Secretariat’s Grandson, Virginia Inmate Find a Common Bond in Greener Pastures Program

Photo reprinted with permission from the Washington Post

Former Virginia state inmate, Tamio Holmes, who learned to be a farrier in prison, has returned as a free man to work on Covert Action, grandson of Secretariat.
Read the entire article: Washington Post Article

TRF at James River Program

The Second Chances program at the James River Work Center was the subject of a recent video by Voice of America that will be tranlated into 46 languages to show the world the good side of America. Photo courtesy of Julie Taboh of Voice of America.
Video opens to a new window

Photo Credit Debby Thomas Photography and Art


For release: January 22, 2015

DOSWELL, VA – The annual Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County will have extra horsepower this year. Fans can enjoy an even bigger celebration for “Big Red” at his birthplace as a major highlight of the new Virginia Horse Festival, March 27-29.

Over the three days, the Secretariat birthday festivities will include:
•   Celebrity appearances and autograph signings by members of the Secretariat team
•   A VIP reception and program in Meadow Hall mansion
•   Visits with local Secretariat descendants
•   An extensive selection of Secretariat merchandise for purchase
•   Special Secretariat and Meadow Stable memorabilia on display
•   Narrated tram tours of the farm, including special VIP tours with members of the Secretariat team
•   An Open House at Meadow Hall featuring the Meadow Champion Galleries, Triple Crown Room and Museum of the Virginia Horse

An exciting new feature this year is the Meadow Descendants Gathering. Horses who have Secretariat or other famous Meadow champions in their pedigrees will parade into the show ring for a “family reunion.” They will be greeted by members of the Secretariat team, who will pose for photos with the horses.

“This gathering will demonstrate the continuing influence of the Meadow bloodlines, as well as highlight the versatility of retired racehorses, many of whom have found new careers off the track,” said Leeanne Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager at The Meadow. The event is being presented by, the Retired Racehorse Project, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River and the Secretariat tourism program at The Meadow. See for more information and an entry form for the Meadow Descendants Gathering, as well as for birthday event updates.

Several of the birthday activities are included in general admission to the Virginia Horse Festival, which is $10 online at and $15 at the gate. The VIP reception and program requires a separate ticket, available on the festival website. Tram tickets will be available each day onsite at the birthday event.

The Virginia Horse Festival celebrates horses and riding disciplines of all types with three days of clinics and demonstrations with top clinicians; a parade of breeds; an exhibit hall full of equine industry vendors; special events; and much more. Tickets go on sale soon at

Secretariat was born at The Meadow on March 30, 1970. He was raised and first trained there as a young colt. In 1973, he made history as the only Triple Crown champion to break all three track records, all of which still stand. Today, The Meadow offers narrated “Hoofprints of History” tours of Secretariat’s birthplace from March to December.

The Virginia Horse Festival and of Louisville, Ky., are co-hosting the Secretariat Birthday Celebration at The Meadow. The Meadow Event Park is owned by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. oversees the development and management of all official Secretariat-related merchandise and events.

Contact: Leeanne Meadows Ladin,, 804-363-1683; Leonard Lusky, at, 502-893-7997

Covert Action being groomed for his appearance in the Meadow descendants parade at the recent Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show. Marcia McCormick, Anne Tucker, and Janis Paiva are making sure he looks his best. We were so proud to be a part of this wonderful celebration of Off the Track Thoroughbreds performing in hunter, jumper and dressage, with a few Western pleasure and trails horses, as well. Photo courtesy of Linda Passaretti.

Open Barn at James River Work Center September 14

The Fall Open Barn was a wonderful day. Here is one of our teaching assistants, Ben, with his family and one very happy horse, soaking up the love. This tells the story of the day quite well.

Annual Kentucky Derby Party

Another great Kentucky Derby party at the Wine Loft raised needed funds for the horses at James River. Pictured left to right are Karen Fowler, Stephanie Nixon, and Jennifer Berdell. Huge thanks to these gals and all who helped make the party such a success. Congratulations to California Chrome!

Ace of Hearts certainly enjoyed the Spring Open Barn, as did the rest of our visitors on a beautiful day at James River.

Covert Action

Covert Action, grandson of Secretariat, made three appearances at Meadow Event Park this year where he stayed in a paddock in front of his grandfather's stall in the yearling barn. This horse has accomplished perhaps more than any other descendant of Big Red, not on the race track but in so many other ways. He has turned around the lives of more than one man and brought smiles to the faces of his many fans and the new friends he makes wherever he goes.

Photo courtesy of Debby Thomas Animal Art & Photography by Debby Thomas National Award Winning Artist & Photographer

Open Barn - 2013

Ready to welcome the guests for the annual Open Barn are, left to right, Nikki Linamen, assistant warden in charge of the James River Work Center, and Anne Tucker, president of the James River chapter of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The partnership of these organizations forms Greener Pastures, fondly known as "barn 4", where men save horses and horses save men.

Program Gives Horses and Inmates a Second Chance

Greener Pastures Program link to video and article - opens to a new window or tab, close to return.

Multiple Choice Named “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stakes Winner!

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at James River partnered with Colonial Downs to celebrate retired racehorses through the first-ever “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stakes June 29th on Ladies Night. After thousands of fan votes online, three horses from TRF at James River traveled to Colonial Downs for final voting with Multiple Choice hoofing-it into the Winner’s Circle as Barn 4’s “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stakes Winner. In addition to the “Mr. TRF” competition, TRF took in enough donations online and at the track to care for one horse in the herd for a full year, which on average is $2,500.

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at James River celebrating Multiple Choice in the Winner’s Circle as “Mr. TRF.” Pictured from left to right: Dr. Tom Newton; Robin Richards, Virginia breeder and national president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association; Nancy Philpy; Deirdre Feeney; Chelsey Keiser, jockey who placed the wreath in honor of all racehorses; Robin Williams, former national president of TRF and founder of James River Chapter; Jennifer Ernst; Anne Tucker, president of James River chapter; Jeanna Bouzek, representing Colonial Downs; Ari Brothers; and Stephanie Nixon.

Photo courtesy of Coady Photography

Joining the three contestants on Ladies Night and serving as “celebrity host” was Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat at TRF James River. Now, let’s hear all about the “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stake at Colonial Downs from Covert Action himself.

Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at James River was “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stake celebrity host.

Photo courtesy of Coady Photography

Hay there TRF fans! For those of you who don’t know me, I am Covert Action, my picture is above—don’t I look handsome? I am glad the photographer got my good side. I owe it all to the men of Barn 4 who did a great job getting me ready for my close up while at Colonial Downs. I even made sure not to roll in the field so my coat would stay clean and shiny.

I was thrilled when I was asked to be the celebrity host for the “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stakes and love getting away from the barn to help spread the TRF message of saving horses, helping men.

First, let me introduce you to three of my herd mates, from left to right, Multiple Choice, Atlas Shrugged and Dr. Charlie. These three TRF James River horses were chosen by the fans to appear at Colonial Downs on Ladies Night after a nationwide online vote.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at James River “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stake finalists. From left to right: Multiple Choice, Atlas Shrugged and Dr. Charlie.

Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

The competition remained close throughout the entire voting process as Dr. Charlie and Atlas Shrugged tried to outlast Multiple Choice, but came up just short in the final votes.

Anne Tucker, TRF James River president and Jeanna Bouzek of Colonial Downs feeding Multiple Choice a few victory carrots in the Winner’s Circle.

Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Multiple Choice or “Choice” as he is known around Barn 4 is a great-grandson of Secretariat and is no stranger to the winner’s circle racking up $692,450 in earnings during his racing career. However, on Ladies Night, he left the track a winner for a different reason sporting a wreath of blue and white flowers and spreading the TRF message of saving horses and helping men.

Congrats again to Choice! I just hope he doesn’t let it get to his head.

The TRF volunteers and Colonial Downs staff did a superb job in the stands helping to spread the word. I heard we did well with the 50/50 split ticket raffle and the silent auction of saddlecloths worn by competitors in the Buckland Stakes really drew a crowd. The even better part was all the proceeds went back to TRF! And, if I heard Anne Tucker, TRF James River president correctly, she said we raised enough money to care for one horses in the herd for a full year.

Oh behalf of the 27 horses at TRF James River, I want to thank our caretakers, the men at the James River Work Center, a Virginia correctional facility located in Goochland County, for their hard work and dedication to making sure we are well taken care of as we pursue our second career. These men are just as instrumental in our lives as we are in theirs. Shouldn’t we all have the opportunity to get a second chance? I know I believe in second chances!

Finally, I want to thank all the fans who came to Colonial Downs to show their support. I love saying hi to all my fans and before I head back to the rest of the TRF James River herd, I want to let everyone know I will be at Meadow Event Park for Secretariat Day September 27, opening day of the State Fair of Virginia. Multiple Choice will also join me as part of his Mr. TRF spokeshorse duties.

See you in September!

• • • Kentucky Derby Party at the Wine Loft

A festive crowd enjoyed the 2013 Kentucky Derby at the Wine Loft party to benefit the James River chapter. Organizers Jennifer Berdell and Stephanie Nixon raised the bar yet again.

Anne Tucker, chapter President on the right, and Jennifer Berdell, party co-host in the center, present the 2013 Winner's Circle award to Stephanie Nixon. This award is given annually to an individual or group who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to Thoroughbred aftercare.

• • • Race to the 250 Sports Grill!

Jeff Ottaviano presents a donation to Jennifer Berdell from 250 Sports Grill. Many thanks to everyone who came for dinner and a fun evening on March 4 to support the horses at James River.

• • • Group Christmas Photo

• • • Richmond Marathon on November 10 - Run for the Horses

Pictured is our Run for the Horses team that participated in the 8K phase of the Richmond Marathon on November 10. These runners and walkers raised over $3000 for the horses. We thank the team and the many people who supported us. We are especially grateful to Jennifer Berdell for organizing it and leading us. Besides Jennifer, team members include Dr. Doug Daniels, Dr. Lindsay Neist, Teresa Garbee, Beth Brown, Barbara Ruqus, Scott Richeson, Anne Tucker, Lynn Stonnell, Allison Stoltz and Nancy Philpy. Good job everyone!

• • • Open Barn on September 16

Here we are setting up for the tack sale at barn 4. Our Open Barn was a huge success by any measure. Those who attended were able to talk with the men about the horses, see our beautiful Thoroughbreds, shop the tack sale, and participate in the silent auction. We raised much needed funds for the program and thank all who attended.

Anne Tucker and Polly Bauhan received a check from the Deep Run Horse Show, presented by Betsy Tompkins and Pam Johnson. “We are deeply honored and appreciative of being the beneficiary of the prestigious Deep Run Horse Show” said TRF James River chapter president, Anne Tucker.

• • • June 23 - Miss TRF of 2012

She’s Judge Garza, better known as Skittles, was crowned Miss TRF of 2012 at Colonial Downs as one of the highlights of Ladies Night on June 23. Jonathons Gal was a close second and Four Wheel Drive exemplified the older generation, looking nothing like her age of 23. The crowd loved seeing these mares that represented James River so well.

• • • May 19 & 20 - Rassawek Spring Jubilee Heritage and Wine Festival

Covert Action had fans young and old at the Rassawek Spring Jubilee Heritage and Wine Festival on May 19 and 20. He found it all quite interesting and was happy to serve as an example of the wonderful care that the offenders give the horses at James River.

• • • May 5 - 3rd Annual Kentucky Derby Party at the Wine Loft

Dr. Tom Newton, recipient of the 2012 Winner's Circle Award for his extraordinary contribution to Thoroughbred aftercare, with his wife, Jennifer Newton.

This event celebrated the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, while helping to raise funds for the rescue and rehabilitation of ex-racehorses. This year’s party also included a special celebration of the 40th anniversary of Riva Ridge’s 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes wins, which helped save Meadow Farm (also home to superhorse, Secretariat).

The Kentucky Derby Party featured complimentary world-class wine, mint juleps, hors d’oeuvres, cupcakes by Kakealicious, silent auction, $1,000 cash raffle, and Best Derby Hat competition. The event was hosted by celebrity emcee, Steve ‘Mr. Beach’ Leonard.

The third annual Kentucky Derby party at the Wine Loft to raise funds for the horses at James River was a big success.

To view photos of this event click Kentucky Derby party photos - opens to a new window, close to return to this page.

• • • November 2011 - All Things New: Second Chances at James River

Source: Gigi’s Blog
Behold…For three straight mornings, I wake up with this word aglow in my mind. For three days running I’ve planned to spend the morning writing about the rehabilitation and reconciliation going on out at the James River Work Center in Goochland – out at the prison.
Read More (Note: This link will take you to another website)

• • • October 2011 - Prison Inmates, Thoroughbred Horses Form Symbiotic Bond Through Second Chances         Program

Source: In & Around Horse Country
James River Correctional Facility, State Farm, Virginia. Barn No. 4 - Jason Ross smiles while he works, the gap between his front teeth visible when his lips roll back in a little laugh. Taking a soft body brush from the box on the sawdust-covered stall floor, he swipes it with an expert swish across Kippy’s copper coat. She shines like a new penny.
Read More (Note: This link will take you to another website)

• • • July 2011 - Second Chances

Source: Richmond Magazine
Rick Miller had a rough introduction to horses. “When I was 6, I got put on a horse. Somebody smacked him on his butt, and he let me know he wanted me off. That was the end of horses right there.” Even so, Miller, now 49, became intrigued after watching other offenders interact with horses through a window at the minimum-security James River Work Center (JRWC).
Read More (Note: This link will take you to another website)

• • • April 2011 - Preserving Our Horses

Source: Fauquier Times-Democrat
Seventy members of the Virginia horse community, including past and current presidents of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, a former Virginia Racing Commission chair and five masters of foxhounds, attended a lunch meeting in Middleburg on April 20 to discuss horse-related matters.
Read More

• • • April 2011 - NBC Channel 12’s Gene Cox reports on the TRF at James River

Source: NBC Channel 12
Gene Cox of NBC12 recently visited the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River and interviewed some of the people involved in the program. Here is part of his coverage while the full story can be seen on the taped interview.
Read More

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