The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association today announced that William S. Farish, owner of Lane’s End Farm and a pre-eminent industry leader of multiple organizations and causes, will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.
Farish, 70, will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit Jan. 18 at the 39th Annual Eclipse Awards ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“I am so honored to have been selected for a sport which has given me and my family so much pleasure and enjoyment for the past 35 years,” said Farish, who resides in Lexington, Ky. “I am humbled to be chosen to join this list of outstanding people who have received this Award of Merit, many of whom have been longtime friends.”
A successful owner and breeder who has served the Thoroughbred industry in a number of high-profile positions, Farish is one of the world’s most well-known and influential horsemen. He is a steward and vice chairman of The Jockey Club, a director and former chair of the executive committee of the Breeders’ Cup (for which his son, Bill, currently serves as chairman of the board), a member of the board of directors of the Keeneland Association, and a Keeneland trustee. He was chairman of the board of Churchill Downs from 1992-2001, as the company grew from a single race track to a multi-track corporation.
“Will Farish is deeply involved in every phase of the Thoroughbred Industry,” said Keeneland president Nick Nicholson. “If you follow the life cycle of the Thoroughbred each stage from mating, breeding, raising, registration, sales, training, racing, and then back to the farm for breeding, Will has positively impacted each step along the way. His knowledge, passion, and willingness to give of his time for the betterment of the industry and the sport have meant so much for the modern Thoroughbred world. We are grateful to have him serve as a trustee of Keeneland and appreciate his advice and counsel.”
In June, the William Stamps Farish Fund donated $1 million to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). As a member of the PDJF board, and working with its executive director, Nancy LaSala, Farish is helping to raise some $10-12 million to endow a fund that will provide continuous support for disabled riders.
“The more I explored the situation,” said Farish, “the more I realized that a sustaining pool of monies was necessary. I feel that everyone who is associated with our sport realizes that a permanent source of funding is needed improve the lives of these disabled riders.”
Farish was born in Houston, Texas, and is the grandson of the late William S. Farish II, the founder of Humble Oil and Refining and chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey. Farish’s grandfather founded the famed Lazy F Ranch in Texas, which campaigned three-time Eclipse Award Champion and Horse of the Year Forego in the mid-1970s.
Will Farish purchased his first Thoroughbred in 1963. In 1972, he campaigned Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Bee Bee Bee. In 1979, Farish founded Lane’s End, a stallion and breeding farm and public sales operation that covers more than 3,000 acres near Lexington. Among the 22 stallions currently standing at Lane’s End are 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy; 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, which Farish campaigned; leading sire Smart Strike; and Smart Strike’s sons Curlin, Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008; and English Channel, 2007 Champion Turf Male. With the late Warner L. Jones Jr., Farish bred Seattle Dancer, who set the world-record price for a yearling when he was sold for $13.1 million in 1985. Farish is a two-time recipient of the Eclipse Award as leading breeder, including in 1999 when he and his partners bred the winners of all three Triple Crown races. Farish has raced more than 150 stakes winners in his name or with various partners.
From 2001-2004, Farish served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, and the Farishes have hosted Queen Elizabeth II on her visits to Kentucky, most recently to attend the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
“In his many leadership roles over the years, Will Farish has been an immensely important contributor to the sport and business of Thoroughbred racing,” said D.G. Van Clief, Jr., former president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. “Whether serving as an Epsom Oaks-winning U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, the chairman of Churchill Downs, a trustee of Keeneland or the master of Lane’s End Farm, his presence has ensured progress and success. I know firsthand that Will’s service as the chairman of the Breeders’ Cup executive committee was instrumental to its successful launch and subsequent growth as a world championship. Without him it would not be the globally respected event it is today. Wherever Will Farish has applied his personal brand of leadership the sport has benefited, and there is no more deserving recipient of this award.”