Paving the Way for Women in Horse Racing and Beyond

It was May 5, 1973, a perfect Saturday—partly cloudy, 67 degrees.  A woman gazes onto a fast track. Her focus narrowed on a gorgeous chestnut trotting to the gate. Emotions are high as she watches the thirteen-horse field being loaded into the gate one by one. The 99th running of the Kentucky Derby was about to begin, and Penny Chenery was hungry for her second Kentucky Derby win with Secretariat. The gates open, the horses charge, and history is being made once again on the first Saturday in May. The crowd roars as Secretariat breaks records, running 21/2 lengths ahead of Sham.

This win was the beginning of a remarkable road to the Triple Crown that broke track records and glass ceilings for women in the horse racing industry. Chenery won in a boys’ club and smashed all odds as she watched her horse win the Triple Crown and become the most famous horse in history. Many people know Secretariat’s story, but you might not know that Chenery saved the family farm, Meadow Stable after her father died. Her siblings wanted to sell the farm, but Chenery fought to save it. Not only did she succeed in saving the farm when people didn’t think she could, but Chenery started to break down barriers for women in the equine industry. Many years have passed since her 1973 win, but what hasn’t is the doubt that comes with women and entrepreneurship. When I started my television show, “My Southern Home,” like Chenery, many people thought the odds were against me, but I didn’t let them stop me. Not only was I successful in starting “My Southern Home,” but I expanded to Nashville one year later. The show has been on the air for seven years.

One of Chenery’s famous quotes is, “I will not live my life in regret.” As women, we all regret things, but the one thing you will never regret is running full speed toward your goals. On the other hand, you will always regret not trying. As someone who went after her dreams when people said, “You can’t.” I’m here to tell you, you can. The road will be bumpy; you will learn from your failures, pivot, try again, and succeed. Chenery sums it up best with one of my favorite quotes, “This is not about going back. This is about life being ahead of you, and you run at it! Because you never know how far you can run unless you run.”



Derby Randoms

“Welcome to Louisville”

My very first Derby was in the mid-90s. I was in second grade, and my family had just moved from a small town in Pennsylvania to Louisville, a place we knew nothing about. To immerse us in the culture, my mom thought it would be fun to take me and my brother to the center of it all – the clubhouse general admission to the wildness that is the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. I insisted on wearing a very frilly pink floor-length lace dress with my black high-top Converse Chuck Taylors, of course. The Courier Journal got a kick out of it, so the hem of my pink dress and my Converse sneaks made it into the style section that year. Meanwhile, near the paddock, my 12-year-old brother literally ran into Muhammad Ali at full speed. Instead of yelling at this punk kid for bumping into him, my mom watched in wonder as Ali did a magic trick for my rowdy brother. Wow. Welcome to Louisville.

“Prom dress on clearance and George Costanza”

Fast-forward to high school… Ever since we had moved to Louisville, we made it an annual tradition to watch the red carpet of the celebrities arriving at the Barnstable Brown party. Once I hit high school, I decided watching wasn’t enough, so I shocked my friends when I snuck in to attend the party, wearing a $25 clearance prom dress from Dillard’s. I made my way through the crowd, head held high and didn’t flinch when I ran into my best friend’s parents at the buffet line (oops!). I soon found myself getting pics with Alice Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, 98 Degrees’ Drew Lachey, Jessica Simpson, and my favorite, Jason Alexander (George Costanza!).

On to me and the logistics of my shenanigans, my friends (and mom!) insisted on joining me for the sneak-in the next year. This time, selfies included Anna Nicole, Josh Groban, La Toya Jackson, Tara Reid… And finally, Carson Daly, where I slyly said to him, “You know Tara’s here, right?” He was a good sport and got a kick out of it… actress Tara Reid and him had just recently had a very public breakup. He chuckled with an eye roll, “Yeah yeah, I know.”

In case you’re wondering, the next year the fun stopped when they implemented wristbands for the first time to attend the party… sorry, Mom.

“Queen Tilly”

2012 had me singing for Jennifer Tilly and her friends at the long-lost restaurant that was MOZZ. She was just as much of a delight as you can imagine – lovely.


How to Turn Your Fashion Statement into a Workout Regimen!

“Welcome to Louisville”

In the world of fitness, there are endless trends and fads promising to sculpt your body into a masterpiece worthy of a Greek statue. From high-intensity interval training to goat yoga (yes, it’s a real thing), people are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to break a sweat. But what if I told you that the next big fitness craze was sitting right on top of your head? That’s right, folks – I’m talking about the Derby hat! At first glance, you might think that the Derby hat is nothing more than a stylish accessory worn by fancy folks sipping mint juleps at Churchill Downs. But think again, because beneath that brim lies the key to a killer workout routine. So, grab your hats and hold onto your horses, because we’re about to embark on a fitness journey like no other!

Step 1: Choose Your Hat Wisely.

Before you can start sweating it out with your Derby hat, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the right one for the job. Opt for a hat with a wide brim and sturdy construction – you’ll need something that can withstand the rigors of your workout routine. Bonus points if it’s adorned with feathers, flowers, or other decorative elements – because who says you can’t look fabulous while getting fit?

Step 2: Warm-Up Wiggle.

Now that you’ve got your hat sorted, it’s time to get moving! Start by gently wiggling your hips from side to side, allowing your Derby hat to sway in rhythm with your movements. This not only warms up your muscles but also gets you in the mood to work it like you’re on the catwalk.

Step 3: Brim-Branded Booty Blaster.

Ready to kick things up a notch? Hold onto the brim of your Derby hat and squat down low, keeping your back straight and your knees aligned with your toes. As you rise back up, extend your arms overhead, lifting your hat high into the air. Repeat this movement for a booty-blasting workout that will leave your glutes begging for mercy.

Step 4: Toss and Twist

Who says cardio can’t be stylish? Hold onto the brim of your Derby hat and give it a gentle toss into the air, twisting your torso to catch it on its way down. Not only does this get your heart rate up, but it also improves hand-eye coordination – because you never know when you might need to catch your hat mid-air at the Derby after one too many mint juleps!

Step 5: Fashionably Fit Finish

As your workout comes to a close, take a moment to admire your reflection in the mirror. Sure, you may be sweaty and slightly disheveled, but you’re also radiating confidence – and that’s the most fashionable accessory of all. So go ahead, tip your Derby hat to yourself, and bask in the glory of your newfound fitness prowess.

And there you have it, folks – the Derby hat fitness frenzy is officially underway! So, dust off those brims, grab your sweatbands, and get ready to sweat it out in style. Who knows, maybe next year you’ll be strutting your stuff at Churchill Downs with a booty so toned, it puts the horses to shame!