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Thoroughbred Industry Employee Award Winners Announced

The Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, now in their fifth year in the U.S., concluded Nov. 5 with winners being announced via a virtual ceremony hosted by Studio 46 Media in Lexington. Jill Byrne, the vice president of racing operations at Colonial Downs, was once again the master of ceremonies.

Jimmy Bell, the president of Godolphin in America, commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in so many ways. But in our industry, we are all very fortunate to have an enormous group of talented and dedicated frontline workers who have continued their hard work, often requiring endless hours, to provide the care for our equine athletes. The Thoroughbred business could not function without them, and we truly appreciate what they do.”

Dan Metzger, the president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, said, “It doesn’t matter if we celebrate the achievements of these outstanding individuals in person or through a virtual platform, we are still reminded how important they are to the Thoroughbred industry. Their passion and commitment cannot be understated, nor can we say and do enough to show our appreciation.

“And on behalf of TOBA, the Breeders’ Cup, The Jockey Club, and the HBPA, thank you to Godolphin for asking us to be a part of such an important program that rewards these fine men and women for their significant contributions to our great sport.”

The awards were sponsored by Godolphin in partnership with the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, TOBA, The Jockey Club, and Breeders’ Cup. Thoroughbred Daily News, BloodHorse, Daily Racing Form, The Paulick Report, Fox Sports, and TVG were media sponsors. 

The recording of the virtual ceremony is available online

Award winners in the breeding, administrative, and racing categories receive $7,500 with an additional $2,500 to the winner’s farm or stable. Runners-up receive $2,500, and the same amount goes to their farm or stable.

The newcomer award winner receives $2,000 and an expense-paid trip to Dubai. The two runners-up receive $1,000 each with $1,000 going to their farm or stable.

Finally, the winner of the community award receives $7,500 with an additional prize of $5,000 going to the charity of their choice.

The full list of winners and runners-up:

Administration Award

Winner: Dionne Johnson, business manager, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
(Runners-up: Lynelle Fox Smith, executive director, Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; Michele Holbrook, office manager, Silver Springs Stud)

Dedication to Breeding Award

Winner: Helen Otero, stallion administrator, Coolmore America
(Runners-up: David Kyle, plant manager, Fasig-Tipton Company; Steve Avery, general farm manager, Taylor Made Sales Agency)

Dedication to Racing Award

Winner: Gregory Smothers, head rider, Niall Brennan Stables
(Runners-up: Marcelo Arenas, assistant trainer, Leah Gyarmati Stables; Patrick “Shawn” Autry, assistant stable manager, McPeek Racing)

Leadership in Breeding Award

Winner: Wayne Clem, assistant yearling manager, Claiborne Farm
(Runners-up: Matt Lyons, VP and COO, Candy Meadows Farm; Christy Holden, general manager, Country Life Farm)

Leadership in Racing Award

Winner: Carmen McShane, assistant trainer, D/M Racing
(Runners-up: Roy Smith, track superintendent, Indiana Grand Racing and Casino; Cindy Hutter, assistant trainer, George Weaver Racing)

Newcomer Award

Winner: Aaron West, racing operations manager, Bradley Thoroughbreds
(Runners-up: Robert Cole, intern/co-op program student, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association; Alexis Kolasa, administrative assistant, Denali Stud)

Community Award
Winner: Maria Cristina Silva, backstretch program coordinator, NYTHA

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