The Maryland Horse Industry Board--a program of the Maryland Department of Agriculture--honored eight horse racing participants with its “Touch of Class” Award during a “Night of Maryland Horse Racing Champions” March 20 at the Sports Legend Museum in Baltimore. The eight honorees represented four different racing disciplines--harness, Arabians, steeplechase and Thoroughbreds. About 250 horse industry professionals were in attendance.
“Maryland’s equine industry is alive and well and extremely diverse,” said state Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “The people and the horses that we recognize tonight are great national champions, not just hometown favorites, and they are true ambassadors for the industry and for our state. I congratulate all of them on their successes and for their commitment to this important agricultural sector.”
The MHIB established the monthly Touch of Class Award in September 2011 to honor Maryland horses, individuals, teams, organizations or events that have garnered national or international recognition. Awards for February, March, and April were presented during the event.
One Thoroughbred and three steeplechasers were among the honorees.
Karin DeFrancis of the Maryland Jockey Club presented the award to Thoroughbred gelding Rapid Redux and his owner Robert Cole Jr., a Baltimore County native. Rapid Redux has won 22 consecutive races, including a perfect 19-for-19 season in 2011. His winning streak, which began in December 2010, includes winning races at seven different tracks at distances of five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. During his streak, he ran in Maryland seven times. His 22nd win occurred earlier this year at Laurel Park. Rapid Redux, who has not run since his last win, is currently enjoying a vacation and will likely not run again before May or June. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters honored Rapid Redux with the Special Eclipse Award earlier this year.
Three steeplechasers were named Touch of Class winners: owner Irvin S. Naylor, the nation’s leading owner in 2011 with 16 wins; trainer Tom Voss, the leading trainer in 2011 nationally with 16 wins; and timber horse Bon Caddo.
MHIB’s Touch of Class Award is named after a Maryland-bred mare who won two Olympic show jumping gold medals and currently holds the Olympic record for number of clean jumping rounds in an Olympic competition.