Vincent "Vinnie" Garibaldi, an 81-year-old former longshoreman from New Jersey who works at Becky Thomas' Sequel Bloodstock Farm near Ocala, Fla., accepted from Campbell a $5,000 check and a statue of Dominion, a Dogwood stakes winner at Saratoga 30 years ago.
The luncheon, which was attended by 68 people, has become an annual event at Saratoga since 1993 when Campbell, the founder of Dogwood Stable, presented the first Dominion Award to H. W. Salty Roberts, the founder of the Race Track Chaplaincy program.
A panel of three judges, Campbell's wife of 49 years, Anne; Daily Racing Form columnist Jay Hovdey; and Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, combed through more than 30 nominations before selecting Garibaldi, who was nominated by Thomas and the staff at Sequel.
Campbell told the audience that Garibaldi is not interested in being in the spotlight, but that the generous acts of the 2008 Dominion Award winner are not easily overlooked.
"Vinnie has been a one-man game for doing good work and doing good deeds of a varied nature," Campbell said. "You can't present Vinnie's qualifications in a neat, tiny little package. There are a lot things that go into why he is here. To quote from one of his nominators: 'Here is a man with little else but the personal resources of a loving and giving heart, and he has shared everything he has to lighten the load of anyone in need. He has helped raise employees' children; including babysitting, making doctor appointments, attending school functions when parents are unable to. When a call comes in from a school to pick up a sick child, Vinnie is on the spot.'
"Vincent Garibaldi could not tell you why he is the national recipient of the Dogwood Dominion Award this year, or why his bosses at Sequel Bloodstock farm nominated him," Campbell continued. "Vinnie just thinks he is lucky to help. Being important to Vinnie, is not important. Vinnie told me, 'I don't consider (what I do) anything special. You can't ignore people when they need help. What the hell; that's life.'"
Garibaldi, who grew up in Jersey City, N.J., has worked at Sequel Bloodstock for 20 years. Brian Roberts, the former farm manager, was at Wednesday's luncheon, and said Garibaldi's kindly acts and attentive qualities are what make him so special.
"Most everyone is watching the front door, and he is always watching the back," Roberts said. "He has seen every horse go up to that racetrack many times. He is just really a good guy. He keeps everyone on cue, and is an asset to the farm. If someone is just standing there, he will go and bring them a chair -- things that no one would think of. He doesn't want any attention. If someone is just standing around, he might ease up to them and say, 'Hey, you want to get busy; the eagle has just landed at the farm,' meaning Becky is on the farm. He's good like that."
Garibaldi was accompanied on his first trip to Saratoga by Sequel's office manager, Missy Horvath, who said he is the "watch dog" at the farm. He said Horvath was "his babysitter" for the trip.
Following the Dominion Award presentation, Garibaldi, who spoke only briefly, let out an exhale and said, "I was a little shaky up there, but now I'm looking forward to going to the track."
The fifth race at Saratoga July 30 was named for Garibaldi.
Garibaldi is a frequent visitor to an off-track-betting parlor in Ocala, where he meets up with a gang of friends, and roots on horses that are graduates of Sequel Bloodstock.
"I call (the OTB) the Lord's waiting room," Garibaldi said with a laugh. "It's all us old folks."