Louis Pomes, who worked tirelessly to find and lead abandoned horses to safety in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, was named the 2005 winner of the White Horse Award Thursday afternoon at Belmont Park. The award was bestowed upon Pomes during the third annual Race Track Chaplaincy of America's White Horse Heroes Luncheon held in the Marquee tent near the Belmont paddock.
Pomes was one of four nominees for the award, which consists of a bronze statute of a white horse plus $5,000 courtesy of youbet.com. The other finalists were Bobby Anderson, an outrider at Bay Meadows Race Course, who collared a loose horse as it ran the wrong way around the track during a race; Kyle Howard, a groom from Maryland who saved farm owner Jim Welling after he became trapped while upside down in a barn silo ladder; and Kevin Schulte, a horseback riding instructor at the Kentucky Horse Park who avoided disaster after a fire broke out in a barn.
The other three finalists received $1,000 from "Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul." Each of the nominees is being treated to the weekend at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships by Daily Racing Form
When Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region at the end of August, Pomes traveled to the Mississippi River to fill buckets, ice chests, and small inflatable plastic pools to bring the horses he had saved safe drinking water. He also brought them hay and treated their wounds, often traveling to the horses by boat.
Later, Pomes discovered that the hurricane had washed away his home and his 26 horses had drowned. Despite his loss, Pomes cared for horses until teams of veterinarians arrived from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge could arrive to help. It is estimated that LSU aided some 400 horses from seven parishes.
The award was presented by former jockey and Hall of Famer Pat Day. The master of ceremonies were Chris Lincoln and Tim Smith, former head of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Earlier in the program, Curtis Sliwa was awarded the White Horse Community Award. He was introduced by Ed Smith, president of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.