“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
Voting Now Open for the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award
Online voting is now open for the fifth annual Secretariat Vox Populi Award. Created by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, the Vox Populi, or “Voice of the People,” Award recognizes the racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year.
Six nominees were selected by the Vox Populi Committee, and voters again have the option to write-in a racehorse of their choice.
This year’s nominees are: California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who earned almost $4 million in his impressive 3-year-old season; Shared Belief, the Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old champion who was undefeated in 2014 until his troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Untapable, the 3-year-old filly who won both the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff; and Wise Dan, the reigning Horse of the Year and three-time Vox Populi nominee who, despite a season interrupted by injury and emergency surgery, won four graded stakes races in as many starts.
Also nominated this year are two beloved veterans: Ben’s Cat, the East Coast 8-year-old gelding who showed enduring tenacity in multiple stakes efforts, including his fourth consecutive win in the Mister Diz Stakes; and Game On Dude, the West Coast 7-year-old gelding who set a stakes record in the 2014 Santa Anita Handicap, his unprecedented third win in that race, adding to his lifetime earnings of $6.5 million.
The list of previous Vox Populi winners includes some of the sport’s most cherished stars: Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and 2010 inaugural winner Zenyatta.
“In the five years since the introduction of the Vox Populi Award, we have been so pleased to see it become such a coveted honor in the racing community,” said Mrs. Chenery. “We expect the award to garner much attention this year. With a field of accomplished nominees so competitive and diverse, the voting should be delightfully contentious.”
Voting in the online poll has now ended. Fans can return to the web site on Christmas evening for the announcement of the 2014 winner. A public trophy presentation with the winning connections is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2015, at Santa Anita Park.
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”
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable who campaigned Funny Cide
Ed Seigenfeld – Former Executive Vice President at Triple Crown Productions
Eric Wing – 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