John Harris

John Harris

Benoit Photo

John Harris to Receive 2012 Pincay Award

Longtime California breeder and owner to be honored at Betfair Hollywood Park July 7.

California horse owner and breeder John Harris will be presented the ninth annual Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award during the Hollywood Gold Cup program July 7 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Pincay, a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 1975, will make the presentation between the fifth and sixth races.

The Pincay Award is presented yearly to someone who has served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination, and distinction.

“John Harris has been an important and very well respected figure in California racing for many years,’’ said Pincay. “He’s continues to be a huge supporter of the sport and has been extremely active at many levels in  numerous capacities.’’

A California native who was born in Fresno, Harris is the chairman and chief executive officer of Harris Farms, Inc., a diversified agricultural production and marketing company that also breeds and races Thoroughbreds. Founded in 1937, Harris Farms is located in the San Joaquin Valley near Coalinga.

One of the largest producers of agricultural products in the United States, Harris Ranch Beef Company is California’s largest feed cattle processor.

A graduate of UC Davis with a degree in agricultural production, Harris is a member and past steward of The Jockey Club, a  former director of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, past president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and a member of its executive committee, and twice served as chairman of the California Horse Racing Board.

As an owner and breeder, Harris has campaigned such stars as Soviet Problem, the runner-up in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), Compari, Work the Crowd, Lucky J.H., Alphabet Kisses, and the recently retired Unzip Me.

Tiznow , the two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner, and multiple stakes winner Cost of Freedom were also raised at Harris Farms.

Harris has served on the boards of the Breeders’ Cup, Grayson-Jockey Club Research, and the Center for Equine Health/UC Davis Advisory, as well as the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, the California Cattlemen’s Association, and the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The Pincay Jr. Award was introduced by Hollywood Park in 2004 with esteemed executive and racing publicist Bob Benoit the initial winner.

Trainer Noble Threewitt was the recipient in 2005, while the Stute brothers — Mel and Warren — shared the award in 2006. Owner/breeder Ellwood W. “Bud” Johnston, whose Old English Rancho is one of the most storied names in California racing, won the award in 2007, while distinguished steward Pete Pedersen was the recipient in 2008. Merlin Volzke, who also had a noteworthy career as a steward, became the first former jockey to win the award in 2009. The Oak Tree Racing Association was honored in 2010 and Jerry and Ann Moss were the winners in 2011.