Today, September 6, 2011, the Maryland Horse Industry Board unveiled the “Touch of Class” award with a presentation to Fair Hill based trainer Graham Motion, trainer of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Motion currently ranks as the nation’s fourth leading trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses.

L-R Jennifer Rowland Small (breeder of Olympic Gold Medalist and Maryland-bred Thoroughbred Touch of Class, for whom the honor was named). Graham Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and first recipient of "The Touch of Class" Award. Maryland Horse Industry Board Chairman Jim Steele

Motion arrived today at the Baltimore County Ag Center in Hunt Valley after having just wrapped up another big month, winning the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in Del Mar, California with Summer Soiree on August 20 and the Grade II Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga, New York with Daveron on August 27. As of August 29, Motion had saddled 77 winners from 336 starts with total earnings of near $6.5 million, ranking him fourth leading trainer in the U.S.

The newly-instituted awards program honors a Maryland horse/individual/team/organization or event who demonstrates the highest standard of excellence in the Maryland horse industry. The award will be presented a monthly basis to recognize the many outstanding accomplishments of Marylanders and Maryland horses in all equestrian disciplines and equine-related fields.

“There are so many great horses, horse people and horse happenings in Maryland that we thought we should recognize and let people know about them on an ongoing basis,” said MHIB chairman, Jim Steele (manager of Shamrock Farm in Woodbine). “This is a strong, dynamic industry with determined and adventurous people and horses, exhibiting the best qualities of horsemanship all over the world.”

No person or horse illustrates the ability to excel better than the Maryland-bred Thoroughbred “Touch of Class.” As are most Thoroughbreds in Maryland, the 1973 Yankee Lad filly was bred to race, but her propensity to jump out of 6′ high round pens made her breeder, Jennifer Rowland Small, think that the mare she registered with the Jockey Club as Stillaspill may have a career in the show ring. With some early guidance from steeplechase racing legend D. Mikey Smithwick and then renowned show trainer Sylvia Hechter, one thing led to another and soon the petite Touch of Class was long-legged Joe Fargis’ mount for the 1984 Olympic World Games.

Touch of Class posted the first double clear rounds in Olympic history, and was only the fourth horse in history to earn two Olympic show jumping gold medals. Touch of Class was the first non-human United States Olympic Committee Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year.  Jennifer Small attended today’s inaugural presentation of the Touch of Class award in order to share her personal account of the mare’s accomplishments.

The Touch of Class awards will be presented monthly in recognition of those horses and/or equestrians that continue to demonstrate that, like Touch of Class herself, while Maryland may be small in size, we are big in talent and accomplishments.

If you would like to make a nomination for a Touch of Class award recipient, please e-mail a the nominees name, contact information and recent (verifiable) accomplishments to the executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, Ross Peddicord:


Is Anne Arundel County Anti-Horse?

Will the WSSC ban horses from the watershed trails?

Find out in the September 2011 edition of The Equiery!

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Chestnut mare escaped her paddock and is presumably on the loose in the Damascus/Mount Airy area. For more information, see The Equiery’s facebook page.