Hilmer and Faye Schmidt received the 2005 T.I. "Pops" Harkins Award for lifetime achievement during the Texas Thoroughbred Association annual conference and awards banquet, which was held at the Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott July 21-22.
Both native Texans, the Schmidts reached the loftiest levels of racing success through their Indian Hill Farm in Florida. In 1979, Hilmer and Faye campaigned their first stakes winner, Savage Moon. By 1995, Indian Hill Farm had risen to national prominence thanks to the filly Golden Bri. Purchased by the Schmidts for just $19,000 as a yearling, Golden Bri upset Serena's Song to win the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont Park in track record time.Hilmer also planned the breeding of Skip Away for Ann Marie Barnhart. The second highest money earner of all-time, the son of Skip Trial out of Ingot Way won the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) and back-to-back runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). After receiving four Eclipse Awards, including 1998 Horse of the Year, Skip Away retired with earnings of $9,616,360.
The Schmidts moved back to Texas in the 1990s, and Faye was instrumental in the formation of the Texas Racing Fillies organization. As its president for the past 12 years, Faye and the Texas Racing Fillies have volunteered and raised money for the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, the Don MacBeth Jockey Memorial Fund, the Houston Equine Research Organization, and the Jockey Crisis Fund.In 1989, the TTA Lifetime Achievement Award was re-named in honor of T.I. "Pops" Harkins, a 16-year veteran of the TTA board of directors. Each year the Harkins Award is presented at the discretion of the TTA awards committee and board of directors to individuals whose contributions to the Texas Thoroughbred industry over a period of years have helped further the goals of the TTA.The Joseph R. Straus Sr. Award was presented to Gene Palmieri, the TTA first vice president. Palmieri, who also manages the TTA grassroots effort, recruited the most new members for the association in 2005. The award is named in honor of Joseph R. Straus, a longtime TTA member who was a leading figure in the effort to legalize pari-mutuel racing in Texas during the 1970s and 1980s.Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt's Heiligbrodt Racing Stable took the award as the leading money earner from the accredited Texas-bred incentive fund, Drs. Ken and Linda Quirk earned The Blood-Horse Breeder of the Year award for the accomplishments of Dixie Meister, and the Thoroughbred Times Leading Freshman Sire award went to Menhal, a son of Danzig who previously stood as property of Joe and Sherry Huerta and is now owned by Jeanne Ann Stasny.Also honored were the 2005 Texas racing champions:Horse of the Year, Champion older horse: Skip and Go
Champion 2-year-old colt/gelding: Forrest G.
Champion 2-year-old filly: Final Trick
Champion 3-year-old colt/gelding: Dixie Meister
Champion 3-year-old filly: Timber Jones
Champion older filly/mare: Slewpy's Storm
Broodmare of the Year: Goleada
The awards banquet was highlighted by a keynote address from recently retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day and emceed by longtime ESPN racing commentator Chris Lincoln.