The individuals associated with undefeated Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro -- veterinary surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center -- and veteran racing journalist Steven Crist were among those honored at the 47th annual National Turf Writers Association Dinner Nov. 1 at The Olmstead in Louisville.
After a cocktail hour and time to browse and bid on silent auction items, guests were called to their seats to enjoy a three course dinner and join in the presentation of awards to the aforementioned groups and individuals.
Bill Nack presented "Team Barbaro" -- the group of Barbaro himself, owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, trainer Michael Matz, assistant trainer and exercise rider Peter Brette, and jockey Edgar Prado -- with the Mr. Fitz Award.
Bestowed upon an individual or group typifying the spirit of racing, the award is named for the late Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jim "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons.
"The injury to Barbaro this spring was the adversity of the most wrenching kind," said Nack. "And team Barbaro acquitted themselves so well (in the midst of the catastrophe) that I suspect they ended up with more admirers and friends around the world than they would have if Barbaro had won the Triple Crown."
Upon accepting the award, Roy Jackson joked that Barbaro had asked him to make some remarks on his behalf. "He wants to first honor you men and women of the press for your honest and straightforward reporting of this whole event. You've done a great service to the racing industry," Jackson said, citing the subjects of laminitis and the anti-slaughter bill.
"Barbaro also wants to thank the multitude of people that sent notes, carrots, you name it," he continued. "Lastly, he wanted to thank Dean Richardson and the whole staff at New Bolton for the care they've given him."
On another humorous note, Jackson related Barbaro's "requests" for Richardson to display his dancing talents during morning medical rounds, and finally, for the veterinarian to speed up his treatments because he's ready to "bring on the girls."
The Joe Palmer reward, which recognizes "meritorious service to racing," was presented to Richardson by well-known equine surgeon Dr. Wayne McIlwraith.
"(Richardson) has both a natural talent and a passion for what he does," McIlwraith said.
Upon accepting his award, Richardson expressed the honor of being linked with one of "the greatest athletes of the 20th century."
"There's still a long way to go--we really haven't accomplished anything yet," he added, giving all the recognition for Barbaro's improvements thus far to the Jacksons.
The Walter Haight Award was presented to Steven Crist by Bob Curran of The Jockey Club.
"No one loves Thoroughbred racing more than Steve, and few present it better," said Curran. The award is presented annually to an individual displaying an "excellence in turf writing."
Also introduced at the dinner was NTWA/Youbet.com journalism scholarship recipient Jennifer MacDonald. A California native and the daughter of a former horse trainer and an HRTV graphics operator, MacDonald is studying journalism at California State University at Chico.
In addition, Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form
received the Joe Hirsch Breeders' Cup Newspaper Writing Award, while Ed DeRosa was presented with the Bill Leggett Breeders' Cup Magazine Writing Award.
Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News
, Bob Ford and Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer
, and Wright Thompson of the Kansas City Star
were also mentioned as this year's Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Contest winners.
The evening ended with a live auction of a painting of Barbaro by equine artist Bob Clark. The item brought $3,000 with all proceeds going to charitable causes.