Saturday, February 5, 2011

Santa Anita Morning

Today was the presentation of the first Secretariat Vox Populi Award given to Zenyatta's owners.  Not surprisingly, the promise of getting Penny Chenery's autograph beat out spending the morning working at the old house.  I got up and headed over to Santa Anita Racetrack this morning, beating my friends Erin and Kay by more than half an hour, even though I got off the freeway at the wrong exit.  I got there before the gates opened, so I spent the time in line, talking to a nice man who gave me a ticket for free admission to the park.

When the gates finally opened, I headed over to the line for purchasing the poster of Secretariat and Zenyatta.  I was well ahead of where Kay, Erin, and Erin's sister Maureen were able to join it.  We decided that one of them could come and join me without too much trouble, but three would be a problem.  Kay came up to me and I greeted her with "so you found the restroom?"  Nobody made any objections, so I had someone to talk to for the hour we had to wait.

Eventually, Penny Chenery and Team Zenyatta arrived to applause.  The line weaved around the barriers and I was lucky enough to get a few good photographs.  I'm glad I decided to use the SLR rather than the point and shoot.
Zenyatta's owner Jerry Moss, jockey Mike Smith, and trainer John Shirreffs.
 Scretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, with Zenyatta owner Ann Moss.  Note Ann's "Z" pin.
 Jockey Mike Smith signing the lithograph portrait of Zenyatta.
Penny Chenery got out of a golf cart and walked to the signing tent.  Someone said "isn't that great that she's walking." I said "she's 87 or 88, she isn't dead."  When I saw the movie Secretariat, I pointed her out to Len in the Belmont Stakes shot.  I have no idea how I knew what she would look like almost 40 years after I saw her in the winner's circle on TV, but there was no mistaking her.
 Dottie Shirreffs writes the entries for Zenyatta's on-line diary, which I enjoy reading. 
 The very beautiful Ann Moss.
 Jerry Moss.
Kay watches John Shirreffs autograph the poster of Secretariat and Zenyatta.
Kay picks up her posters. We were lucky to be able to buy two each, so Erin and Maureen could have copies. They were in position to be able to buy them, but the autographing would have ended before they got to the tent.

I decided not to stay until the sixth race for the actual ceremony, figuring I'll be able to catch it on line somewhere and have a better view of it that way.  But I had to stop at the gift store before I left--Santa Anita has a great gift shop.
I noticed copies of Secretariat's Meadow and then I realized someone was signing books--Penny Chenery's daughter Kate.  I was suddenly very happy that I hadn't ordered the book from Amazon.
Kate Chenery Tweedy signed my copy of Secretariat's Meadow.  She described herself to another customer as "I'm Penny's rebellious hippie daughter Kate."  It must be funny to think of yourself as immortalized that way on film, but she definitely had a sense of humor about it.  Another customer pulled out a photograph of his horse--a descendant of Big Red.  Kate said they're encouraging people to send photographs of Secretariat's progeny for a website.  That will be worth checking out.

I also picked up a tee-shirt like the ones that the gift store staff were wearing:
I like the reverse as well:

Secretariat and Zenyatta are definitely racing royalty.  Watching them run is something I will never forget.  My poster is now ready for hanging.


Unknown said...

I saw your post on Zenyatta's daily diary posts and just had to come see and read your experience at the signing. Wow you were so fortunate to actually get a poster and have it signed by all of the greats. I had read where they had run out of posters and did not get them signed.

I couldn't make it for that special day, but thanks so much for posting this and sharing it with others. I live through others who can experience such special events.

M. C. Valada said...

I feel very lucky to have gotten there early enough to get the poster. Like most people who saw the 1973 Triple Crown (for me, it was live on TV), I was a fan of Big Red. Zenyatta has generated the same kind of excitement, so Saturday was a special day. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Unknown said...

Yes, thank you for posting this and the photos of the day. I wasn't able to be there and this helped.