Updated on 09/15/2011 1:33PM

Hawley top honoree at awards ceremony


Ontario's outstanding breeders of 2000 were to be honored at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's annual awards dinner and dance Saturday in Milton, Ont., but it is a jockey who was to receive the night's primary award.

Sandy Hawley, one of North America's most accomplished riders and Woodbine's ambassador of racing, was named the unanimous recipient of the Blood-Horse Mint Julep Cup for lifetime achievement.

The Mint Julep Cup is awarded to an individual who has had made substantial contributions to the Ontario racing industry. Among those who have been presented with the award are the late Charles Taylor and Ernie Samuel, Frank Stronach and, last year, David Willmot.

Hawley's milestones on horseback can fill several pages

in a book. He won 6,449 races in 31 years of riding, and won 61 separate riding titles, including four North American titles. He earned dozens of awards for his riding ability and his sportsmanship, and is a member of both the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

"I remember when I first started out at Woodbine, when I walked around the shed row, people would say 'hey jock' and I hadn't even ridden a race," Hawley said. "It was a thrill that someone called me a jockey. I never thought I would have the career that I've had."

It's been three years, almost exactly to the day, that Hawley rode in his last race, and these days he continues to represent his industry as a television commentator and an ambassador for the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

Several days a week Hawley speaks to newcomers who visit Woodbine or the teletheater network, and his fans still line up to get an autograph or talk to the personable rider.

"I do a lot of public speaking," said Hawley. "I go to rotary clubs and I talk about my career and promote racing at the same time. I'm enjoying it and I'm getting more and more relaxed with it too. We have a lot of fund-raisers here now and that keeps me busy."

Recognition and awards continue to roll in for Hawley. Last week he was inducted into the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame.

"I guess you know you're getting old when you get a legends award," he joked.

But at 52, Hawley is especially pleased that he will be a part of a special night for Ontario's Thoroughbred breeders.

"It is a special thrill, to receive a breeder's award as a jockey," said Hawley.

The C.T.H.S. will also award its Outstanding Breeder Trophy to Sam-Son Farms, which won the same title in 1989 and '91. Sam-Son won its third Sovereign Award in 2000, for top breeder, and was the leading breeder of Canadian-bred runners by earnings last year with homebreds earning more than $4.3 million.

The top three Canadian-bred earners in 2000 - Quiet Resolve, Scatter the Gold, and Catch the Ring - were bred and raced by Sam-Son. Other 2000 stakes winners bred by Sam-Son, wholly or in part, were Sky Alliance, Misty Mission, Dancethruthedawn, and Think Red.

Proceeds from a silent auction at the awards dinner were to go to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, which is based at Woodbine.