“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
Paynter wins 2012 Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award
Paynter, the inspiring Haskell Stakes winner whose impressive 2012 season was marked with on-track thrills and courageous health battles, has been selected to receive the 2012 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.
Paynter was a late entry in the selection process when racing fans passionately noted his absence from the original list of nominees. In response, Mrs. Penny Chenery, who established the award in 2010, and the Vox Populi Committee made the decision to add Paynter as a contender. As thousands voted in the online poll, Paynter emerged as the consensus choice among the three determining bodies — online voters, the committee and Mrs. Chenery — edging out Frankel and I’ll Have Another.
Paynter exploded onto the racing scene early this year when his maiden performance prompted owner Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert to send the stunning colt on the Kentucky Derby trail. His thrilling near-miss in the Belmont Stakes and brilliant performance in the Haskell Stakes further impressed fans and racing analysts, but it has been his tenacious battles with health issues, including laminitis, and Zayat Stables’ continued updates of his progress through social media that captured the attention of the racing community and fans all over the world.
Laminitis is a painful disease that attacks the sensitive inner tissue of hooves. Secretariat and 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro both died as a result of this serious condition. Veterinary specialists say that Paynter was able to beat the disease, and it is hoped he will be able to return to racing in 2013 as he continues to gain weight and his health improves.
“Paynter’s popularity stems from his ability to battle and exceed expectations, making him the perfect choice as the recipient of this year’s Vox Populi Award,” said Mrs. Chenery. “After seeing firsthand the devastating affects of this disease, I am even more convinced that the industry must continue to diligently fight laminitis. The progress we have made to date clearly benefited Paynter — a beautiful colt with a tremendous spirit.”
For all those who voted, thank you for letting your voice be heard!
2012 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”
Ed Seigenfeld – former Executive Vice President at Triple Crown Productions
Eric Wing – NTRA Senior Director of 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 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.