“Vox Populi” Award
Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award
From the covers of national magazines to more recently the silver screen, “America’s Horse” Secretariat captured the heart of a nation. In January of 2011, his celebrated owner, Penny Chenery, announced the creation of an award that will annually recognize a horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year. The award is the first of its kind in horse racing.
In 2010, the brilliant racemare Zenyatta was celebrated as the inaugural winner of the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award. Perhaps the most beloved champion since Secretariat himself, Zenyatta’s only loss in her 20-race career was a nail-biting defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2011, the second Secretariat Vox Populi or “Voice of the People” Award, was awarded to Rapid Redux who set a modern-era record with 22 consecutive wins by a U.S. horse and tied the great Citation with 19 wins in a single season.
In 2012, the third winner of the “Vox Populi” Award was Paynter, whose racing determination and courage off the track overcoming a life-threatening illness endeared him to millions.
In 2013, Mucho Macho Man earned the award in a racing campaign punctuated by his thrilling photo finish victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2014, the winner was California Chrome, the “people’s horse” whose modest connections and Cinderella story captured the affection of fans and “Chromie” followers along the way to Horse of the Year honors.
In 2015, the “Vox Populi” was most recently awarded to American Pharoah, whose victorious Triple Crown campaign was the first in 37 years, adding his name to an elite list of only 11 other horses in history to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
The 2016 Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award selection process will commence in November when a diverse panel of committee members will determine their top 2016 nominations by majority consensus. The general public will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite nominee finalist in an open on-line ballot at Secretariat.com beginning later in the month. The “Vox Populi” Award and corresponding coveted trophy is typically presented to the winner in a public ceremony in early January of the new year.
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