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Friday, October 7, 2016

Thoroughbred Industry Employee Award Winners Announced

The 2016 Thoroughbred Industry Employee Award winners were announced Oct. 7. From left to right: Jill Byrne, Victor Espinoza, Izzy Vega, Melissa Cohen, D. Wayne Lukas, James Sebastian, and Vinny Castaneda. (Photo by Coady Photography)
Sponsored by Godolphin, the inaugural edition of the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards was just concluded this afternoon with Keeneland graciously hosting the event at its sales pavilion in Lexington, Kentucky. Winners were honored in five categories along with runners-up. Churchill Downs' Jill Byrne was the Master of Ceremonies with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas on hand as presenter of the awards.

Dan Metzger, CEO of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, said, “Congratulations to all of the nominees, finalists and winners. These are the people that are so vital to our racing and breeding industry and it's just tremendous to see them being recognized in this way. And on the behalf of TOBA, The Jockey Club and the National HBPA, thank you to Godolphin for bringing this program to America and for allowing us to be its industry partners in such a great event.”

Jimmy Bell, President of Godolphin in America commented, “The judges remarked about the difficulty in separating a winner in each category as the quality of the nominees was simply outstanding. I'd just like to say congratulations to all the winners and to their colleagues who sent in the nominations, and to the judges who took on the task of selecting the winners.”

The full list of winners and runners-up are as follows:

Dedication to Breeding Award
James Sebastian, Handler, mares and foals, Claiborne Farm
(Runners-up: Everett “Powell County” Charles, Groom, Stone Farm and Leon Hamilton, Foreman, Ashview Farm)

Dedication to Racing Award
Jose “Vinny” Castaneda, Groom, Marty Jones Racing Stable
(Runners-up: Danny Ramsey, Exercise Rider, Kenny McPeek Racing and Raul Rodriguez, Groom, Sherman Racing Stable)

Leadership Award – Farm
Victor Espinoza, Farm Manager, Brookdale Farm
(Runners-up: John Hall, Yearling Manager, Taylor Made Farm and Matt Koch, Owner/Manager, Shawhan Place)

Leadership Award – Racing
Melissa Cohen, Assistant Trainer, Richard Violette
(Runners-up: Jimmy Barnes, Assistant Trainer, Bob Baffert and Las Guerra, Assistant Trainer, Mike Maker)

Thoroughbred Industry Community Award
Israel “Izzy” Vega, Racetrack Chaplain
Racetrack Chaplaincy of California

The Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, with a total prize money of $115,000, was managed and administered by the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Media partners are The Thoroughbred Daily News, BloodHorse, Daily Racing Form and TVG.

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