Nick Zito, who just a few weeks ago was enshrined in racing's Hall of Fame, has been named one of three award winners by the National Turf Writers Association.
Zito was named winner of the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing. Also in voting by members, Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form was chosen to receive the Walter Haight Award for excellence in turf writing, and recently retired California steward Pete Pedersen was voted the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing.
The presentations will be made at the organization's annual awards dinner, to be held Oct. 26 at Jericho Terrace in Mineola, New York, three days prior to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.
Zito has trained Kentucky Derby winners Strike the Gold and Go for Gin, Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, Belmont winner Birdstone and trained such other top horses as Albert the Great, A P Valentine, Greenwood Lake, Storm Song, The Cliff's Edge, The Groom is Red, Bird Town and Stephen Got Even. He is involved in the attempt to end the slaughter of horses for human consumption as the spokesperson for the National Horse Protection Coalition.
Privman is the national correspondent for Daily Racing Form and also does occasional television analysis for ESPN and ABC. He previously was a west coast correspondent for The New York Times, western editor of The Racing Times, and racing writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. Privman is a five-time winner of the Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Contest and two-time winner of the Joe Hirsch award for best Breeders' Cup story. He is also the author of "Breeders' Cup: Thoroughbred Racing's Championship Day," and also contributed chapters to "Champions" and "Crown Jewels.'
Pedersen, the dean of West Coast racing officials, was a hotwalker, public handicapper and a racing journalist before he found his true calling as a patrol judge, placing judge and ultimately a member of the board of stewards at such tracks as Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields and Longacres, in his native Seattle. Along with Kentucky's Keene Daingerfield, Pedersen was instrumental in elevating the professionalism of the steward's profession and encouraging more independence for the position. Pedersen was on the Board of Stewards presiding over the inaugural Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park in 1984 (there were two disqualification rulings made that day), and in 2001 he was honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit, in recognition of more than half a century of service. He retired from his position as California's senior steward at the end of the 2005 Hollywood Park meeting at the age of 85.
The Mr. Fitz Award is named for the late trainer James E. Fitzsimmons, who trained Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and Omaha; the Joe Palmer Award is named for the late racing editor of the New York Herald Tribune; and the Walter Haight Award is named for the late racing columnist for the Washington Post.