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September 19, 1886|
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||January 3, 1973
New Rochelle, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Pelham Manor, New York|
|Education||Randolph-Macon College, Washington and Lee University|
|Known for||Owner of Secretariat|
Helen Bates "Penny"
|Parents||James Hollis Chenery & Ida Burnley Taylor|
Christopher Tompkins Chenery (September 19, 1886 - January 3, 1973) was an American engineer, businessman, and the owner/breeder of record for Thoroughbred horse racing's U.S. Triple Crown champion Secretariat.
Chenery was born in Richmond, and raised in Ashland, Virginia. He was the brother of William L. Chenery, Editor-Publisher of Colliers Magazine. Chenery's sister was Blanche Chenery Perrin, a writer of children's books centered on horse racing, such as Born To Race. He studied at Randolph-Macon College and Washington and Lee University, graduating in 1909 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He then went to work in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Alaska, but his career was interrupted with service in the United States Army Corps of Engineers during World War I. After the war, Chenery established Chenery Corporation, which became the controlling shareholder of the Federal Water Service Company. He served as the water, gas, and pipeline company's president. Chenery was involved in two cases before the Supreme Court of the United States that are considered landmark cases of United States administrative law. After disbanding the Federal Water Service Co, he founded and served as president and chairman of the board of another utility, the Southern Natural Gas Co. later Sonat, eventually purchased by the El Paso Corp. In the 1950s, he purchased Danziger Oil and used it to create the Offshore Production Corp. one of the first offshore drilling companies.
One of the founders of the New York Racing Association, Chenery made his home in the village of Pelham Manor, New York, for nearly fifty years. However, he is best known for his 1936 purchase of The Meadow, an ancestral property in Caroline County near his boyhood home in Ashland, Virginia. It was there that he founded Meadow Stable stud which bred and raced Thoroughbreds.
Chenery operated Meadow Stud, Inc. as a breeding business and Meadow Stable, Inc. as the owner for the horses he kept for racing. His operations produced and raced the champion colt and 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Riva Ridge, and Secretariat, winner of the 1973 U.S. Triple Crown. Among his other horses of note, Chenery owned and bred Hill Prince, the 1950 U.S. Horse of the Year; Cicada, champion filly at 2, 3, and 4; and First Landing, the 1958 U.S. Champion 2-yr-old colt.
In the mid-1950s, Chenery was one of three men appointed by the Jockey Club to restructure and restore integrity to New York Racing. Along with John W. Hanes and Harry Guggenheim Chenery organized the non-profit Greater New York Racing Authority with the novel idea of funneling proceeds to the state. However it was Chenery who personally obtained the $30 million loan necessary to renovate the New York race tracks after banks balked at financing "an enterprise based on gambling."
Chenery was admitted to the New Rochelle, New York Hospital in late February 1968. He remained there until his death on January 3, 1973, before Secretariat's Triple Crown victory occurred. In 1968, his daughter Penny took over the management of the 2,798-acre (11.323 km2) farm and its racing stable. While she recorded her father as breeder of Secretariat, it was Penny Chenery who made the decision to send Meadow Stud's mare Somethingroyal to be bred to Bold Ruler twice. The first mating in 1968 produced the filly The Bride. The second breeding, in 1969, resulted in Secretariat.
- Pelham Manor website
- The Meadow Event Park
- Virginia Thoroughbred Association Hall of Fame
- Bowen, Edward L. Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Thoroughbred Breeders (2003) Eclipse Press ISBN 978-1-58150-102-5
- Nack, William. Secretariat: The Making of a Champion (2002) Da Capo Press ISBN 978-0-306-81133-3