Big Sport of Turfdom Awarded to John Servis

John Servis, the Philadelphia Park-based trainer who nearly guided Smarty Jones to the Triple Crown while at the same time accommodating a throng of media following them, has been named the winner of the 2004 Big Sport of Turdom Award presented by the Turf Publicists of America.

The award is presented annually to a person or group of people who enhances coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with the media and Thoroughbred racing publicists.

Servis will receive the award Jan. 24 in Beverly Hills at the Big Sport of Turfdom luncheon sponsored by the Keeneland Association, United Tote and VISA Triple Crown.

Servis, who grew up near Charles Town racetrack in Charles Town, W. Va., started training in 1984 and has campaigned horses mostly on the mid-Atlantic circuit.

Smarty Jones, owned by Roy and Patricia Chapman and ridden throughout the Triple Crown by Stewart Elliott, won eight of nine career starts and more than $7.6 million in purses and bonuses. Still undefeated after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he finished one length behind Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes (all gr. I).

A record crowd of 120,139 witnessed the Belmont Stakes and NBC Sports' telecast of the race was the top-rated show on network television that week. NBC Sports estimated that 33 million viewers tuned in, giving the event its highest national rating (11.3 nationally) since 1981.

The TPA is an organization consisting of approximately 200 publicity and marketing personnel from racetracks and racing organizations around the country and the Big Sport of Turfdom Award has been presented every year since 1966.