Maryland honored a trainer, author, and jockey with ties to the state at the Touch of Class Awards ceremony Tuesday, May 14 in Silver Spring.
Receiving awards were trainer H. Graham Motion, jockey Mario Pino, and author Patrick Smithwick Jr. The Maryland Horse Industry Board established the awards to honor Maryland horses, individuals, teams, organizations, or events that demonstrate the highest standards of excellence in the state's horse industry.
The three Touch of Class recipients honored were:
• Motion who recently won the $10 million Dubai Gold Cup, the world's richest horse race. Motion is based at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton (Cecil County). This will be his second Touch of Class Award. He received the first after winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Animal Kingdom , the same horse who won the Dubai Cup.
• Smithwick, an author from Howard County, wrote "Flying Change, A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing." The book received the 2013 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which recognizes the best book written nationally about horse racing. Smithwick is the first Touch of Class Award recipient honored for outstanding equine literature.
• Pino is Maryland's all-time leading jockey and 10th on racing's all-time win list with 6,487 victories. Pino is the 2013 winner of the George Woolf Award, a national achievement award for jockeys presented annually in California. His daughter, Victoria, accepted the award on his behalf.
The awards night also celebrated the 40th anniversary of Secretariat winning the Triple Crown. More than 200 people attended the reception, which was sponsored by the Maryland Jockey Club and MHIB.
"The Preakness Stakes (gr. I) is a great event," said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Mary Ellen Setting. "Secretariat's Triple Crown is a great moment in history. And the three Touch of Class Award recipients we honor tonight are great ambassadors for our State and the equine industry,"
The awards were presented by several dignitaries. Most notable were Secretariat's Triple Crown-winning jockey Ron Turcotte and owner Penny Chenery.
Prior to the award presentation, attendees viewed an advanced screening of the documentary, "Secretariat's Jockey Ron Turcotte," which traces Turcotte's remarkable rise to fame in 1973, the fall that left him a paraplegic in 1978, and his emotional journey back to the people and places that marked his life.
Also on hand to present the awards were Deputy Agriculture secretary Mary Ellen Setting; MHIB chairman Jim Steele; Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas; and Maryland Jockey Club and MHIB member Karin DeFrancis.
The event benefited the Secretariat Foundation, which supports charities and organizations that meet the Thoroughbred racing community's needs including veterinary research into lameness, Thoroughbred retirement and rehabilitation facilities, and therapeutic equestrian programs.