Gary Player, who won nine majors during his golf career and is also a leading Thoroughbred breeder in his native South Africa, will be the first recipient of the Breeders’ Cup Sports and Racing Excellence Award.
Breeders’ Cup, in an Oct. 30 release, said the award “honors an individual who has established a career of excellence in a chosen profession and also maintains a passionate interest as an owner, breeder, or participant in the Thoroughbred racing industry.”
The award will be presented at Santa Anita Park Nov. 5. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be run at the track Nov. 6-7.
“Demonstrating that same commitment to excellence which made him the world’s greatest international golfer, Gary’s outstanding success as a Thoroughbred breeder and passionate supporter of horse racing makes him an extraordinary first recipient of our Sports and Racing Award,” Breeders’ Cup president and chief executive officer Greg Avioli said in a statement.
Player won the Masters and British Open each three times, the PGA Championship twice, and the U.S. Open once. He is also a golf course architect, having created more than 300 design projects around the world.
“I am chuffed at being selected for this inaugural award and delighted to accept it on behalf of all horse lovers around the world,” Player said. “If I had to choose golf over horses…I would miss my clubs!”
Player has owned the 20,000-acre Gary Player Stud in Cape Province since 1974. From an original small band of broodmares, he has produced an average of 12% stakes winners per crop, including Pinehurst, World Over, Foreign Source, Kadarko, Foolish Pride, Creator, and Superwood.
From three mares in the U.S., he had stakes winners Broadway Flyer (gr. I), Cachet Noir (Fr-III), and two sons of Storm Cat now at stud in South Africa, Aristis and Port Rush.