The Turf Publicists of America announced Dec. 6 that Dr. Dean Richardson, the equine veterinarian who became a household name along with his famous patient, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro, has been chosen as the 2006 winner of the organization's Big Sport of Turfdom award.The award is presented annually to a person (or group of people) that enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with the media and Thoroughbred racing publicists.Richardson will receive the award at the 41st annual Big Sport of Turfdom luncheon, sponsored by Scientific Games Racing, Hollywood Park, and the Keeneland Association, at Mastro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills Jan. 22, a few hours before the Eclipse Awards.Richardson is the Charles W. Raker professor of equine surgery and the chief of large animal surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's George D. Widener Hospital at New Bolton Center. The hospital provides services that range from primary care through the most complicated and sophisticated medical and surgical techniques in use today. Richardson is an internationally recognized orthopedic surgeon whose research focuses on cartilage repair. During his illustrious career, Richardson has received the Pfizer award for excellence in research (1997), the Norden Distinguished Teaching award (2000), the Class of 2004 and the Class of 2005 Distinguished Teaching awards, the Ohio State Distinguished Alumni award (2005), and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Alumni Distinguished Teaching award (2006).In November, Richardson and the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center received the Joe Palmer award for meritorious service to racing from the National Turf Writers Association at their annual awards dinner."In good times and bad, Dr. Richardson stood front and center to graciously provide enormous hordes of media with up-to-the-minute developments about Barbaro in the weeks and months following the colt's life-threatening injury in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and during a nearly fatal bout with laminitis a few weeks later," explained TPA president John Lee. "He patiently explained, in layman's terms, every aspect of the treatment and procedures he and his colleagues were employing to save the colt's life. He made himself very accessible, and he is a most deserving winner of the Big Sport award."
The Big Sport of Turfdom award has been presented every year since 1966. Previous winners include, among others: Joe Hirsch, Penny Chenery, Jack Klugman, Jim McKay, Laffit Pincay Jr. (the only two-time winner), Tim Conway, Carl Nafzger, Chris McCarron, Laura Hillenbrand, Sackatoga Stable, John Servis, and, last year, Pat Day.