2020 Authentic Wins Vox Populi

“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

Fan Involvement in Sport Propels Talented Colt to Receive Annual Award 

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Horse racing fans have spoken, and they have chosen Authentic, the wire-to-wire victor in both the 2020 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic, as the winner of the 2020 Secretariat Vox Populi Award. Created by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, the award annually recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the general public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.

A frontrunning favorite among the record number of fans who voted in the year-end online poll, Authentic burst onto the racing scene early in 2020. In the unusual calendar that followed for 3 year olds, the speedy colt returned five wins and two second-place finishes in his seven starts.

Authentic is owned in a partnership with B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing. In March, Spendthrift offered an interest in Authentic to My Racehorse Stable, a new venture that sells affordable micro-shares of racehorses to casual fans. Thus, when Authentic was victorious in this year’s Run for the Roses, he fulfilled the Derby dreams of more than 5,300 racing enthusiasts with a vested interest in him.

“Offering racing fans the opportunity to share in the joy of horse ownership is an innovation that holds much promise for the industry and an idea that my mother would have applauded,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, family historian and daughter of Penny Chenery. “These Authentic interests and the affection they share for their personal champion has parlayed into widespread attraction and support for the sport. Authentic’s athleticism speaks for itself, but in a resounding and new way, Authentic has emerged as a horse of the people.” 

Hughes, representing the ownership interests, expressed gratitude for the honor, given the talented field of nominees.

“We were so pleased with the ride that Authentic gave us this year,” Hughes said. “He carried with him the hopes and dreams of all of us who love horse racing, and he delivered time and again on racing’s largest stages. We’ll remember that thrill for a long time to come — one of the few good stories of 2020. And I, for one, am hopeful that this new kind of partnership will lead to more fans taking an active interest as owners in our magical sport.” 

Trained by Bob Baffert and piloted by jockey John Velazquez in his final three starts, Authentic was one of a select group of five nominees submitted by the Vox Populi Committee and presented to thousands of voters in more than 50 countries who spoke as the “Voice of the People” in online polls on both and, where the Vox Populi was featured in the Fan Choice Awards. Other nominees were Monomoy Girl. Swiss Skydiver, Tiz the Law, and Whitmore. Voters also had the option to write in their own favorite candidate, where other exceptional horses were noted.  

Authentic now joins a list of cherished racing stars who have also received the Vox Populi Award: Bricks and Mortar (2019), Winx (2018), Ben’s Cat (2017), California Chrome (2016 and 2014), American Pharoah (2015), Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and Zenyatta (inaugural 2010).  

Bid on an Authentic Presentation Bust, Pewter Figurine Miniature and Original Halter in the Vox Populi Auction Jan. 28 – Feb. 7


Read “An Authentic Winner of Vox Populi Award” in the Askin’ Haskin postings.

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 – President of Select Films and producer of 2010 Disney Studio’s film “Secretariat”
Bob Curran – Former Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club
Steve Haskin – Racing historian and former journalist for Blood-Horse Magazine
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable (abstained from nominee selection this year)
Laffit Pincay III – NBC and Fox Sports Horse Racing Analyst
Amy Zimmerman – Executive Producer, HRTV and Producer for NBC and ESPN racing telecasts
Brian Zipse – Senior writer for Horse Racing Nation and Host of HorseCenter


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