“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
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 the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award that annually recognizes a horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the general public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year. The award is the first of its kind in horse racing.
The inaugural winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi or “Voice of the People” Award, was the champion racemare Zenyatta, followed by the tenacious gelding Rapid Redux, and last year’s winner, the resilient colt Paynter. Each of these winners representing diverse achievements and appeal, yet all beloved by their fans .
The 2013 nominees are: Game On Dude, the 6-year-old gelding whose stellar year produced $2.47 million in earnings and first-place finishes in five of six starts; Groupie Doll, the popular 5-year-old mare who won her second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint; Mucho Macho Man, the 5-year-old Breeders’ Cup Classic winner who earned almost $3 million this year; Paynter, the 2012 Vox Populi winner who returned to racing at the highest level after battling laminitis and colitis; Princess of Sylmar, the 3-year old filly who won four Grade 1 stakes and earned more than $1.5 million during 2013; and Wise Dan, the 6-year-old returning Vox Populi nominee and 2012 Horse of the Year who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second consecutive year.
“It is noteworthy that there are so many older horses among our nominees this year,” Mrs. Chenery said. “These horses are still going strong. They have had staying power in the public eye and prompt more fans to root for their continued success.”
The Vox Populi winner will be selected on the equally weighted basis of the public online poll below; consensus from the Vox Populi Committee; and input from Mrs. Chenery. Voting in the online poll ends December 21, with the award presentation to the 2013 winner scheduled for the weekend of January 11 at Santa Anita Park.
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.