Photo: Courtesy of Disney Enterprises
The heroine of this month's Secretariat looks back on the ride of her life.
In Secretariat, Diane Lane (left) plays Penny Chenery, the elegant and strong-willed owner of the thoroughbred who took the Triple Crown in 1973. The real-life Ms. Chenery, now 88 and living in Colorado, shared her memories of "Big Red," as he was known, whose record-breaking 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes sealed his reputation as perhaps the greatest racehorse of the past century.
O: The movie's called Secretariat, but in many ways you're the star of this story
Penny Chenery: Well, somebody had to be. The horse couldn't talk!
O: What was he like?
PC: He was a cheerful, good-looking ham. He knew he was big stuff. When he won the Belmont, he was in his own zone, racing for the joy of it.
O: So between the two of you, who was the boss?
PC: Oh, I worked for him. Secretariat definitely considered me part of his retinue.
O: When you started running your dad's stables, you were new to the business—not to mention a woman in a man's world.
PC: I knew about horses and riding, but I didn't know a thing about the basics of racing, like what a furlong was. "It's an eighth of a mile? Oh, I can do that!" At the time, I was bringing up four children, active in my community—and bored to tears! The opportunity to do something challenging, plus having the luck to own a good horse, was thrilling. It was perfect timing. I was 50, and I wanted women to know they could really do something with the second half of their life.
Find your passion!
From the October 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!