Julian "Buck" Wheat has been named the winner of the 2001 Dogwood Dominion Award. The unofficial mayor of the Churchill Downs backstretch, Wheat is director of horseman's relations at the Louisville track.
Wheat began working at Churchill in 1949 when, at age 16, he served as an usher. He has been in his current position since 1986.
"Buck Wheat did not win this award because of his title as "Mayor," nor for contributing enormously to making the greatest day in racing even more wonderful for the participants," said Anne Campbell, one of the members of the judging panel. "He won it because of his little known extracurricular activities on the backstretch that have spanned half a century...He has a passion for the industry, his job, and particularly for the little people with whom he comes in contact."
The Dogwood Dominion award was created by Dogwood Stable to recognize unsung heroes in the Thoroughbred industry.