Thoroughbred industry hands out top employee awards


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – The Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, now in its fifth year in the United States, concluded this afternoon with winners being announced via a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Studio 46 Media in Lexington.

Jill Byrne, Vice President of Racing Operations at Colonial Downs, was once again the master of ceremonies.

- Advertisement -

Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin in America commented, “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in so many ways. But in our industry, we are all very fortunate to have an enormous group of talented and dedicated frontline workers who have continued their hard work, often requiring endless hours, to provide the care for our equine athletes. The Thoroughbred business could not function without them and we truly appreciate what they do.”

Dan Metzger, president of the Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, said, “It doesn’t matter if we celebrate the achievements of these outstanding individuals in person or through a virtual platform, we are still reminded how important they are to the Thoroughbred industry. Their passion and commitment cannot be understated, nor can we say and do enough to show our appreciation. Metzger further commented, “And on behalf of TOBA, the Breeders’ Cup, The Jockey Club and the HBPA, thank you to Godolphin for asking us to be a part of such an important program that rewards these fine men and women for their significant contributions to our great sport.”

The recording of the Virtual Ceremony is available at The full list of winners and runners-up is as follows:

Administration Award
Winner: Dionne Johnson, Business Manager, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc. (NYTHA)
(Runners-up: Lynelle Fox Smith, Executive Director, Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; Michele Holbrook, Office Manager, Silver Springs Stud)

Dedication to Breeding Award
Winner: Helen Otero, Stallion Administrator, Coolmore America
(Runners-up: David Kyle, Plant Manager, Fasig-Tipton Company, Inc.; Steve Avery, General Farm Manager, Taylor Made Sales Agency)

Dedication to Racing Award
Winner: Gregory Smothers, Head Rider, Niall Brennan Stables
(Runners-up: Marcelo Arenas, Assistant Trainer, Leah Gyarmati Stables; Patrick “Shawn” Autry, Assistant Stable Manager, McPeek Racing)

Leadership in Breeding Award
Winner: Wayne Clem, Assistant Yearling Manager, Claiborne Farm
(Runners-up: Matt Lyons, VP and COO, Candy Meadows Farm; Christy Holden, General Manager, Country Life Farm LLP)

Leadership in Racing Award
Winner: Carmen McShane, Assistant Trainer, D/M Racing
(Runners-up: Roy Smith, Track Superintendent, Indiana Grand Racing and Casino; Cindy Hutter, Assistant Trainer, George Weaver Racing)

Newcomer Award
Winner: Aaron West, Racing Operations Manager, Bradley Thoroughbreds LLC
(Runners-up: Robert Cole, Intern/Co-op Program Student, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association; Alexis Kolasa, Administrative Assistant, Denali Stud)

Community Award
Winner: Maria Cristina Silva, Backstretch Program Coordinator, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association