Edited press release
Phyllis Shetron, an advocate for the backstretch worker, a founding member of the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, and a trainer, is the 2007 winner of the Dogwood Dominion Award.
Shetron is the 15th recipient of the annual award to honor an “unsung hero” in racing. She will receive $5,000 and a bronze statue of Dominion at an Aug. 1 luncheon at the Reading Rooms in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She was selected from more than 30 nominations by judges Anne Campbell, Penny Chenery, and Jay Hovdey.
“Phyllis Shetron is the perfect definition of an unsung hero,” said Cot Campbell, President of Dogwood Stable. “Here is a lady who actually scrounged in dumpsters for mattresses for destitute grooms to sleep on at Finger Lakes Racetrack. Her kind heart certainly extends to horses, and she demonstrated that when she drove into Pennsylvania to rescue 14 horses that were headed for the slaughterhouse.”
Two years ago, Shetron learned that all the furniture in the grooms’ dormitories had been disposed of at the end of the Finger Lakes meet. Upon their return in the spring, the grooms found bare rooms. Shetron, knowing the grooms didn’t have enough money to purchase their own mattresses, approached the local Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association but was told there were no funds available.
It became Shetron’s mission to get a mattress for every groom, so she worked with local store owners who had disposed of mattresses, but she had to retrieve them from the stores’ dumpsters.
Shetron was instrumental in rescuing more than a dozen horses consigned to a livestock auction in Pennsylvania. Shetron and a friend went to Pennsylvania, where they tracked down the Finger Lakes horses. One had already been lost to the slaughterhouse, but over the course of three weeks and several trips to the state, all the other horses were found and purchased. From that, the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program was born. Both the track and the local HBPA help fund the program.
The Dogwood Dominion Award was inspired by the multiple stakes winner Dominion, who was campaigned by Dogwood in the 1970s and went on to become five-time champion sire in England. It was created upon his death in 1993 to recognize the unsung heroes in the racing industry.
Former winners are H.W. “Salty” Roberts, Howard “Gelo” Hall, Peggy Sprinkles, Grace Belcuore, Nick Caras, Donald “Peanut Butter” Brown, Danny Perlsweig, Katherine Todd Smith, Julian “Buck” Wheat, Jim Greene and Shirley Edwards, Neftali “Junior” Gutierrez, Pam Berg, Jo Anne Normile, and Pete Lizarzaburu.