Fan Club

“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

Voters From More Than 40 Countries Bestow Honor on ‘Chrome’ for a Second Time

California Chrome, the 5-year-old chestnut champion whose 2016 stellar season catapulted him to be North American racing’s all-time leading earner, again has been selected to receive the 2016 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.

“Chrome,” as he is affectionately called by his many fans, is the Vox Populi’s first-ever repeat recipient. He received the award in 2014 after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and building a coast-to-coast fan base of “Chromies” during his Triple Crown campaign.

Following his Cinderella story though, injuries accounted for a disappointing 2015 racing season. California Chrome’s celebrated comeback in 2016 was highlighted by seven wins in eight starts, including commanding performances in the Dubai World Cup and TVG Pacific Classic, a sensational second-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and a record-breaking finish in his most recent start, the Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos Race Course. He was one of a select group of nominees submitted by the Vox Populi Committee and Mrs. Penny Chenery, owner of beloved Triple Crown champion Secretariat in whose name she established the award in 2010. In the online poll, California Chrome’s international appeal translated into widespread support from Vox Populi voters in more than 40 countries.

“The far-reaching participation we received from this year’s Vox Populi voters has been quite thrilling, ” said Mrs. Chenery. “This global enthusiasm and California Chrome’s repeat selection are testament to both his athletic excellence and his abiding appeal among racing fans. In both the sports and entertainment realms, we have seen some names repeatedly receive honors, and it is those stars who typically become the all-time greats in their field. I think we are seeing California Chrome’s emergence as an enduring racing celebrity propelling him to a new level of stardom.”

Ridden by Jockey Victor Espinoza and trained by Art Sherman throughout his prolific career, California Chrome has amassed an all-time North American record of $14.5 million in earnings to date. He is expected to stand at stud in 2017 at Taylor Made Farm, now a co-owner of the champion along with Perry Martin.

“This horse has given us one stratospheric ride,” Martin said. “I continue to be amazed by his courage, athleticism and his will to win. Mostly though, I’m proud to witness the love and devotion of Chrome’s fans. They’ve always seen what I’ve seen in him. Winning the Vox Populi Award two years ago was an incredible honor, and it is just as terrific the second time around.”

In addition to California Chrome in 2014, previous Vox Populi winners have been American Pharoah (2015), Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and Zenyatta (inaugural 2010).

The Chenery family will present the custom-made Vox Populi trophy to the California Chrome team on Jan. 14 at Santa Anita Park. In conjunction with the presentation, a special Vox Populi poster giveaway and autograph signing with the connections will be offered to the public.


Thank you for voting and letting your voice be heard!


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?
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. While the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award may or may not be bestowed upon an Eclipse Award candidate, it is simply 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.

Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award committee members:

Charlsie Cantey – National television horse racing analyst and 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”
Bob Curran – Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable who campaigned Funny Cide
Eric Wing – Former Daily Racing Form Advertising Director
Amy Zimmerman – Executive Producer, HRTV and Producer for NBC and ESPN racing telecasts
Brian Zipse – Managing Editor and columnist for Horse Racing Nation


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