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

Turf Champion Chosen as the 10th Winner of the Annual Fan Award 

Click Here for Print by Jaime Corum

Horse racing fans have spoken, and they have voted 5-year-old turf king Bricks and Mortar as the winner of the 2019 Secretariat Vox Populi Award in the year-end online poll. 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.

Bricks and Mortar, a third generation grandson of Secretariat, was undefeated in 2019, was chosen by a record number of fans representing all 50 states and nearly 40 countries.

The annual Vox Populi Day Celebration will take place at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 11, 2020, with a collector poster giveaway and other festivities that will commemorate the 10th year of fans applauding their favorite equine athletes with participation in the “Vox Populi” selection process. 

After being sidelined for 14 months with a neuro-muscular condition that affected his ability to gallop, Bricks and Mortar staged a comeback in 2019 that comprised of six wins in as many starts at six different tracks, including notable first-place finishes in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, the Manhattan Stakes, the Arlington Million, and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf Championship. His triumphant return to racing attracted a fan following that grew with each anticipated start and the ensuing victory that followed.  

“The 2019 racing season offered varied and interesting stories of equine stars, and Bricks and Mortar was a standout among them,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery and family historian. “Bricks and Mortar’s comeback is a favorite plot in American sports lore — the return of a champion. We congratulate his connections and look forward to the presentation of the Secretariat Vox Populi Award trophy in January.” 

Owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Bricks and Mortar was trained by Chad Brown and piloted by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

“The well-being of all our horses is our primary concern,” said Seth Klarman, owner of Klaravich Stables. “When Bricks and Mortar was injured, we wanted to give him whatever time he needed to have the best chance for a full recovery. And did he ever recover! We are grateful for the fans who voted for Bricks and Mortar, who is truly the horse of a lifetime.”

Bricks and Mortar was one of a select group of six nominees submitted by the Vox Populi Committee and presented to thousands of voters worldwide who spoke as the “Voice of the People” in online polls on both and, where the Vox Populi was featured in the inaugural Fan Choice Awards. Other nominees were Belvoir Bay, Maximum Security, Midnight Bisou, Mitole, and Omaha Beach. Voters also had the option to write in their own favorite candidate. 

UPDATE Jan. 11 Vox Populi Celebration Day at Santa Anita Park – Join the day’s festivities, which include a very special poster giveaway honoring 2019 Vox Populi winner Bricks and Mortar as well as the award’s nine preceding winners since its inception a decade ago. Autograph signing will take place at 11:00 a.m. near the paddock with connections of famed previous winners, including jockeys Mike Smith and Gary Stevens, and trainers Bob Baffert, Art Sherman and John Shirreffs.  A silent auction and an exhibition of equine artwork from trophy artists Caroline Boydston and Kitty Cantrell will also be part of the fun. 


Bid on the Bricks and Mortar Presentation Bust or order your official Secretariat Vox Populi T-Shirt and let the world know your voice was 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 – Former Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club
Steve Haskin – Racing historian and journalist for Blood-Horse Magazine
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable who campaigned Funny Cide
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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