10/04/2016 9:39PM

TIEA finalists were part of American Pharoah's story


It takes a village to raise and campaign a top racehorse – and two men who worked closely with Triple Crown champion American Pharoah behind the scenes are among the finalists for the inaugural Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, presented by Godolphin.

Jimmy Barnes and John Hall are among the finalists spotlighted in a series of profile videos Godolphin has rolled out with the awards presentation drawing closer. There are 13 finalists in five award categories – Leadership Awards for farm work and racetrack work, Dedication to Breeding, Dedication to Racing, and the Thoroughbred Industry Community Award. The final stage of judging is currently taking place, and the winners will be announced in a ceremony at Keeneland on Oct. 7, opening day. The ceremony will be streamed live on DRF Breeding Live.

Barnes, an assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, is a finalist for the Leadership Award – Racing, along with Melissa Cohen, an assistant in the Rick Violette stable, and Laz Guerra, assistant to Mile Maker. To view all of their profile videos, click here.

Barnes, who has been with the Baffert barn for 17 years, spent 2015 on the road with American Pharoah, who raced at seven different tracks in five states in his historic campaign.

“My relationship with American Pharoah was wonderful,” Barnes says in his profile video. “I was with him probably every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What a wonderful horse to be around. [It was a] lifelong dream come true.”

John Hall, a yearling and farm manager at Taylor Made Farm, was involved with American Pharoah when he was boarded there as a yearling. Hall is a finalist for the Leadership Award – Farm, along with Brookdale Farm manager Victor Espinoza and Matt Koch, co-owner and manager of Shawhan Place. To view all of their profile videos, click here.

“I grew up in the horse business, and I’ve been [at Taylor Made] for 20 years, and it’s like living my dream,” says Hall. “We’ve got great clients who send us great mares, and we’re able to see their offspring and watch them grow. It’s a great thrill.”

Modeled after a similar awards program that Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin established in England 11 years ago and later instituted in Ireland and Australia, the TIE Awards recognize excellence and achievement for grooms, foaling crews, exercise riders, office staff, and others who work on farms and racetracks in the United States. To be eligible, nominees must be U.S. citizens and work at a farm or racing stable in the U.S.

The awards are sponsored by Godolphin and facilitated by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club. The winners each receive a trophy and a prize of $10,000, with an additional $5,000 being awarded to the winners’ farms or stables. The two runners-up in those categories will win $2,500 each, with the same amount going to their farm or stable.

To view the complete list of finalists and their profile videos, click here.