On Tuesday, May 14, racing fans gathered at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring for an evening dedicated to honoring equine excellence. The evening began with a live taping of ESPN.com’s “In the Gate,” a podcast panel discussion on the controversy behind Secretariat’s record-breaking time at the 1973 Preakness Stakes. On the panel were Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery and jockey Ron Turcotte also with biographer Bill Nack and several racing analysts, journalist and representatives from the Maryland Jockey Club.
The podcast can be viewed later in the week on ESPN.com.
Next on the evening’s docket was a screening of the documentary, “Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte,” which traces Mr. Turcotte’s rise to fame in 1973, the fall that left him a paraplegic in 1978 and his emotional journey back to the people and places that marked his life.
Following the screening, guests were invited to a VIP Reception hosted by the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Horse Industry Board where fans could meet Mr. Turcotte and Ms. Chenery. It was during the reception that three of Maryland’s racing greats were honored with Touch of Class awards.
For the second time, Fair Hill Training Center based flat-track trainer Graham Motion was honored for his work with the 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who most recently won the $10 Million Dubai Gold Cup, the world’s richest race.
Maryland’s all-time leading jockey, Mario Pino was also honored with a Touch of Class award. He is currently 10th on racing’s all-time win list with nearly 6,500 wins. He was also the winner of the 2013 George Woolf Award, a national lifetime achievement award for jockeys. His daughter accepted the award on his behalf since he is currently racing out of Florida.
Steeplechase jockey and trainer Patrick Smithwick, Jr. became the first author to be awarded a Touch of Class for equine literature. His book, Flying Change, A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing, received the prestigious 2013 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which recognizes nationally outstanding books about horse racing. To read more about Smithwick’s book, click here.
Look for more photos on The Equiery’s Facebook page and future print issues.