After 18 years, the annual Dogwood Dominion Award – designed to honor an “unsung hero in racing” – will be discontinued, it was announced by Dogwood Stable President Cot Campbell.
“There's no complicated reason. It's just that we've done it for almost two decades. It has made a fine contribution to racing, encouraging an outgrowth of other awards of a humanitarian nature, and now we think it's all right to quit doing it,” Campbell said.
Each year since 1993 Dogwood has awarded $5,000, along with a bronze of Dogwood's 1970's campaigner Dominion, to a man or woman who has worked behind the scenes to create a positive influence on the Thoroughbred racing/breeding environment in which they work. Nine men, eight women and one couple – from nine states – have been honored. Some have striven for the horses, some for the people of the backstretch and the farms.
“The Dominion Award had its birth in England. When our fine old campaigner, Dominion, went to England for stud duty he was noted for siring a steady stream of genuine, hard-knocking, blue collar racehorses. So noteworthy were his progeny that Great Britain's Thoroughbred Breeders' Association established an 'Industry Award' in his honor. When Dominion died, Dogwood Stable established a similar award in this country. We never dreamed we would be doing it for 18 years. It has been an honor, and has done a lot of good, but now we'll close it down,” Campbell said.
Each year roughly 45 nominations have been sent to Mary Jane Howell, the Dogwood Public Relations Director, and these have been judged by a panel of three judges: Anne Campbell, Todd Pletcher and Jay Hovdey. Through the years Mack Miller, Pat Day, Penny Chenery, and Jerry Bailey have also served as Dominion Award judges.
The Dominion Award winner was honored at a luncheon at the Saratoga Reading Rooms, an event that became part of the racing season's social tapestry. Invitees included industry leaders, friends of Dogwood and of the recipient. The New York Racing Association would name a race for the award winner that same afternoon.
H.W. “Salty” Roberts was the inaugural winner of the Dogwood Dominion Award in 1993. He was followed by Howard “Gelo” Hall, Peggy Sprinkles, Grace Belcuore, Nick Caras, Donald “Peanut Butter” Brown, Danny Perlsweig, Katherine Todd Smith, Julian “Buck” Wheat, Shirley Edwards and Jim Greene, Neftali Gutierrez, Pam Berg, Jo Anne Normile, Pete Lizarzaburu, Phyllis Shetron, Vincent Garibaldi. Mary Lee-Butte, and Barbi Moline.
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