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Saddle worn by Secretariat stablemate Riva Ridge will debut at State Fair

Saddle worn by Secretariat stablemate Riva Ridge will debut at State Fair

DOSWELL—A training saddle worn by Meadow Stable champion Riva Ridge will make its official debut at the State Fair of Virginia, Sept. 27 through Oct. 6.

The saddle will be a major highlight of the narrated tours of Meadow Hall on September 28 and 29 and October 5 and 6.

Riva Ridge was raised and first trained at Meadow Stable in Caroline County, now operated as The Meadow Event Park. In 1971, the colt saved the financially troubled stable from the auction block by earning $500,000 in race winnings. In 1972, Riva won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

The following year, Secretariat won the Triple Crown and eclipsed his stablemate’s accomplishments. Riva Ridge became a forgotten champion to many people, but not to his owner, Penny Chenery.

He’s not forgotten, however at his former home, where his story figures prominently in the Secretariat Birthplace tours.

Thanks to the generosity of two Meadow Stable exercise riders, a leather saddle worn by the racing champion is the new centerpiece of a special display. Jerry Nuckols, who rode at The Meadow in the 1970s, received the saddle from the late Gene Breeden, who rode Riva Ridge during his early training on the farm. Nuckols has loaned the saddle to The Meadow’s Secretariat tour program.

“The fact that Jerry Nuckols chose to present the saddle to us this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of Riva’s birth, makes it even more meaningful,” said Leeanne Meadows Ladin, Secretariat tourism manager.

“Riva was a National Racing Hall of Fame honoree, and his saddle is a major historical artifact for our collection,” Ladin explained. “We are thrilled to add it to our year-round tour program, and State Fair visitors get to see it first!”

Tours of Meadow Hall during the fair feature the Meadow Champion galleries, Triple Crown Room, racing trophies and photos and a sculpture of Secretariat.

For information on the State Fair’s Meadow Hall tours visit For information on the Secretariat tours, visit

Media: Contact Ladin at 804-363-1683.