“Vox Populi” Award
“Horse racing already has established avenues to award outstanding accomplishments, and we certainly should honor superior performance. But achievement can be measured in many ways, and fans occasionally feel a disconnect when the horses who most impacted the public are not recognized through the traditional equine awards. The industry is long overdue in annually acknowledging the star horse who brings the most excitement and attention to the sport. It is my hope that the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award will be an honor that reflects the heart and soul of racing and will help build upon the devotion the public has for a horse they love.”
~ Penny Chenery, 2010
Mucho Macho Man wins 2013 Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award
Simultaneous Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park Celebrations
Mucho Macho Man, the tenacious 5-year-old winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has been selected to receive the 2013 Secretariat Vox Populi, or “Voice of the People,” Award. The award recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
Mucho Macho Man was the unanimous favorite among the three deciding bodies: fans in the online vote, the Vox Populi Committee and Mrs. Penny Chenery, who established the award in 2010. Fan interest was at record levels this year with thousands voting in the online poll and some submitting noteworthy write-in votes such as those from the loyal fan base of Saginaw, a racing hero to many in the New York region.
But it was Mucho Macho Man who had emerged as the clear choice when voting ended on Dec. 21. Earlier in the year, Mucho Macho Man, who carries the colors of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, was sidelined for five months as he fought both bacterial and viral infections. Still, the strapping bay’s earnings for 2013 were nearly $3 million with only five starts, and his impressive wins in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic propelled him into the limelight and further enhanced his popularity among racing fans.
Mucho Macho Man’s Breeders’ Cup win was a comeback highlight for both his trainer Kathy Ritvo, who has endured several health issues in recent years including a heart transplant in 2008, and his jockey Gary Stevens, who came out of racing retirement early in 2013 after working in television for eight years and appearing in the movie Seabiscuit.
“It is a great honor to think that a horse with such humble beginnings could intertwine the lives and stories of so many people, and tug at the heartstrings of racing fans from all over the world. We feel truly blessed to be a part of this story and receive this prestigious award on behalf of Mucho Macho Man and our team.” said owners Dean and Patti Reeves.
Mucho Macho Man now joins previous Vox Populi winners Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011) and Zenyatta (inaugural 2010).
“I think we all identified with Mucho Macho Man’s story of overcoming adversity,” said Mrs. Chenery. “It is a classic theme that transcends sports and life and generations. And because he is poised to return in 2014, racing fans will have much to anticipate in this champion Thoroughbred.”
The custom-made Vox Populi trophy was presented to Mucho Macho Man’s connections in a coast-to-coast ceremony on Jan. 11. Stevens and the Reeves received the trophy at Santa Anita Park, while Ritvo and Mucho Macho Man were recognized during a simultaneous presentation at Gulfstream Park. The connections were available at their respective locations to meet fans and sign autographs and both celebration ceremonies were broadcast live on HRTV.
For those of you who voted in our online poll, thank you for participating and letting your voice be heard!
2013 Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award committee members:
Charlsie Cantey – Long-time national television horse racing commentator
Steve Cauthen – Hall of Fame jockey and 1978 Triple Crown winner aboard Affirmed
Mark Ciardi – Mayhem Pictures, Producer of 2010 Disney Studio’s film “Secretariat”
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable who campaigned Funny Cide
Ed Seigenfeld – former Executive Vice President at Triple Crown Productions
Eric Wing – NYRA Director of Communications and Media Relations
Amy Zimmerman – Executive Producer, HRTV and Producer for NBC and ESPN racing telecasts
Q & A with Penny Chenery about the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award
What is the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award?
“Vox Populi” is an age-old Latin expression that literally means “voice of the people.” The award gives recognition to the horse that generated the most fan response during the year.
What motivated you to create the Award?
Racing has an established award system in place that is fundamentally based on past performance. But there is nothing that honors the horse that best captures the attention and affection of the public. The fans are the life-blood of our sport and their collective “voice” deserves to be heard and formally recognized. In the past decade alone, extremely popular horses like Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Barbaro all captivated the imagination of the public but were ultimately left unrecognized in terms of traditional divisional year-end honors. How can we, as an industry, expect the rest of the world to embrace our sport, when we don’t annually honor our most beloved horses internally?
How will the winner of the Award be decided?
Each year the winner will be selected based upon the horse who most resonates with the public and gains recognition for the sport. I envision a democratic process involving a diverse panel of distinguished racing personalities and representatives, from within and outside the industry, working together in unison with the “voice” of the general public. The selection process will involve the utilization of an open on-line poll to help quantify public opinion.
What is the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award’s relationship to the Eclipse Awards?
Initially none. The Eclipse Awards recognizes the “professional’s” choice based upon the evaluation of statistical track performances. The Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award measures the “public’s” choice and their emotional sentiment. Simply put, the The Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award is not concerned or constrained by who beat whom in which race, the Award reflects who the fans were pulling for. And it is not meant to conflict with the Eclipse Awards but to enhance how we honor our racing heroes.
How will the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award be presented?
An award that speaks for the public should allow the public to participate in its ceremony. It is my hope the presentation to the winner can always take place at a public racing venue where fans of any age are invited to come and celebrate the winner’s accomplishments and express their affection with the connections.
What is your future vision for the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award?
I would like it to provide an ongoing platform for the voice of the fans to honor the horses they love, a touchstone for what they deem best and brightest within our sport.