Laurie and Sham: Penny Chenery ~ Kindness and Class

preakness penny

With the passing of Penny Chenery, many memories come to mind.  When I was working for Frank Martin, and riding SHAM, I saw her at the track a lot, especially during the Triple Crown races.  One morning, before the Derby, while exiting the track, a tall, muscular chestnut was going by.  His rider smiled, said good morning.  Of course I recognized them, Secretariat and Ron Turcotte.  That moment has always stayed in my mind.

Another very memorable afternoon, I met Penny Chenery for the second time.  She had been at the barn once to speak with Frank Martin.  This day, minutes after the Preakness, as I was walking SHAM, she noticed I was crying and upset.  She left her horse’s side, came over to me, her hand extended, and congratulated the other grooms and me, on the great condition and amazing performance ( her words ) of SHAM.  She said she had seen me ride many times, and admired my hands on a horse. 

We chatted as she walked a turn of the barn with SHAM and me.  What we talked about, only I know to this day, but this very kind hearted LADY, sure made me feel better on that day.  Imagine, the owner of Secretariat and Riva Ridge, actually took the time for me and SHAM on one of racing’s Greatest Days.  I will never forget this great lady’s encouraging words to me.

6 thoughts on “Laurie and Sham: Penny Chenery ~ Kindness and Class

  1. A beautiful remembrance of a beautiful moment and wonderful owner Everyone recognizes Sham was a truly great horse. He and Alydar are remembered as two of the greatest horses in American racing history.


    1. It sure is. Laurie was only 15 when she started in all of this, her fondest memories are with Sham. She’s a real horsewoman, still. Lives in Canada with some OTTB retirees, runs camps, still works as hard as ever. Pretty amazing, yet, humble, woman.


  2. Walking hots at an off track training track in Colts Neck, at the end of the morning on Derby Day, everyone threw a buck or two, I don’t recall the precise entry fee, and I drew Riva Ridge out of the bucket…Your story about Penny was heartwarming. Thanks.


      1. My time on the race track only encompassed a couple of years. The summer at Saratoga (‘77) was the highlight, working in Wilma Kennedy’s barn. One of her clients, Mr. Veale, eventually would own Ellis Park. But it was following the comings and goings of Meadow Stable (thank-you Riva Ridge) that got my attention. Big Red’s Belmont really got my attention. I spent a frigid winter at Garden State living in a tack room. Fond recollections as one of Patrick ‘Brian’ Enright’s pupils in Cherry Hill where Joanie Bush was our pony girl. I still remember many of the animals like it was yesterday. Noble Angel’s temperament was as her name suggests and Fiery Heart, a FL bred filly, had one. We would ship to Pennsy every so often so I had a cup of coffee at Keystone, but the lion’s share of my time was at Monmouth. It was when The Meadowlands meet was held at Monmouth as construction of the North Jersey track was behind schedule. Reading the book “My Racing Heart” affirmed my love of the business. If you can find it, by all means you should give it a go. It will be a read you won’t regret. I can’t recall the author, but I remember Longacres was the area where much of the bio is told.


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