05/03/2016 7:07PM

Godolphin establishing awards for farm, racetrack workers

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Godolphin announced Tuesday night at the Derby Trainers Dinner in Louisville, Ky., that it is establishing the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards to recognize excellence and achievement for grooms, foaling crews, exercise riders, office staff, and others who work on both farms and racetracks in the United States.

The awards are open to anyone working in horse racing and breeding and are being established “to reward those people who are viewed as the backbone of the industry and play an invaluable role in caring for the horses,” according to a Godolphin press release. A total of $115,000 will be awarded to the winners and runners-up, with the first award winners being announced in early October.

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club will help establish the awards. Godolphin will financially support the launch of the awards, and is hoping for industry organizations to adopt and support the program in the long term.

Speaking ahead of the launch, John Ferguson, chief executive and racing manager for Godolphin, said: “We speak of our equine athletes at length, but it is also important to ensure that those individuals who make up the fabric of the sport and work tirelessly behind the scenes get the merit they deserve. We look forward to watching this initiative become a significant event in the racing and breeding calendar this year and in the years to come.”

Godolphin, the racing arm of Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s operation, has been sponsoring similar awards in England for 11 years, in Ireland for two years, and in Australia for one year. France will be added this year. Sheikh Mohammed is establishing these awards in the countries in which he has racing and breeding operations. Godolphin largely supports the awards, though Horse Racing Ireland has taken on a large role in that country and the British Horseracing Authority contributes in England

Agreeing to take on ambassadorial roles in support of the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards are trainers Kiaran McLaughlin and Bob Baffert; owners Maggi Moss and Sol Kumin; breeder and owner John Phillips; Racing Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron; and broadcast racing analyst Donna Brothers.

The nomination process will start on May 9 and close Aug. 1. A five-person committee will determine the three finalists in each category, and the finalists will travel to Lexington, Ky., to be interviewed by a different panel to determine the winners. The awards ceremony will take place at a luncheon at Keeneland on Oct. 7, opening day of the fall meeting.

There will be five awards for the U.S. in 2016 (there are now nine awards in Ireland), with each winner receiving a commemorative trophy in addition to a cash award. There will be cash awards distributed to other employees associated with the winning farm or racing stable.

The five awards:

Leadership Award, Farm – Awarded to an individual on a Thoroughbred farm working in a managerial or supervisory role who displays exceptional leadership, especially in motivating and mentoring staff. Awards: $10,000 to the winner, plus $5,000 to the farm for others on staff; $2,500 to each runner-up, plus $2,500 to each farm for other employees.

Leadership Award, Racing – Awarded to an individual in a Thoroughbred racing stable in a managerial or supervisory role who displays exceptional leadership, and motivates, mentors, and supports colleagues in the workplace. Awards: $10,000 to the winner, plus $5,000 to the racing stable for others on staff; $2,500 to each runner-up, plus $2,500 to each racing stable for other employees.

Dedication to Breeding Award – Awarded to an outstanding employee at a farm who has demonstrated reliability and talent for horsemanship in the breeding field, with a minimum of 10 years of service in the breeding industry. Awards: $10,000 to the winner, plus $5,000 to the farm for others on staff; $2,500 to each runner-up, plus $2,500 to each farm for other employees.

Dedication to Racing Award – Awarded to an outstanding employee at a racing stable who has demonstrated talent for horsemanship in the racing field, with a minimum of 10 years of service in the racing industry. Awards: $10,000 to the winner, plus $5,000 to the racing stable for others on staff; $2,500 to each runner-up, plus $2,500 to each racing stable for other staff members.

Thoroughbred Industry Community Award – Awarded to someone who has made outstanding contributions to the Thoroughbred industry and worked toward contributing to the greater good of the sport, even if not directly employed in the industry. Award: $10,000 to the winner, plus $5,000 to the charity of their choice.

Nominees must be U.S. citizens and work at a farm or racing stable in the U.S.

For more information or to make a nomination, go here.