John and Donna Ward, the Lexington, Ky.-based husband-and-wife training team that guided the development of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos, champion Beautiful Pleasure, and other major stakes winners, have been selected by members of Kentucky Thoroughbred Media (KTM) to receive the organization's 12th "Ambassador of Racing" award for 2002.
The award is presented annually to an individual or individuals who make an extraordinary effort to provide the public and media with a greater understanding of the Thoroughbred industry. The winner is chosen by a vote of members of KTM, an organization of print, electronic and photojournalists and publicists who work in Kentucky's racing and breeding industries.
The Wards, who live on a Fayette County farm adjacent to Keeneland Race Course, are coming off a spectacular year that was topped by the victory by John C. Oxley's Monarchos in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. John Ward, a third generation Kentucky horseman, was the trainer of the son of Maria's Mon, who also won the Florida Derby (gr. I). Although John Ward is listed as the trainer of all of the horses in their operation, Donna Ward guides the development of their fillies and mares. In 2001, that group included 1999 champion older filly or mare Beautiful Pleasure; Forest Secrets, winner of the Acorn Stakes (gr. I); and Snow Dance, a multiple stakes-winning turf filly.
John Ward finished the 2001 season with 27 wins from 110 starters, a 25 percent winning percentage, and his horses earned $3,523,740.
"Donna and John Ward never fail to patiently answer questions and deal with special requests from racing media and publicists, regardless of whether they had just won the Kentucky Derby with Monarchos or are bidding a tender farewell to a champion like Beautiful Pleasure," said Jennie Rees, Turf writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal and president of Kentucky Thoroughbred Media. "They are always at the barn, whether the day's news is reason for joy or disappointment. The Wards' willingness to share their knowledge, experiences and emotions opens the door to greater public understanding of a sport and industry that is often challenging and complicated. They possess all of the qualities that the KTM 'Ambassador of Racing' award was created to honor."
The "Ambassador of Racing" award was presented in 2001 to Churchill Downs director of publicity Tony Terry. The award has been presented each year since 1991 and earlier winners include: D.G. Van Clief (2000); Mrs. Penny Chenery (1999); Charles "Chick" Lang (1998); Bob Baffert (1997); Dr. George Mundy and Cathy Schenck (1996); the John A. Bell Family (1995); Dan Rosenberg (1994); Ric Waldman (1993); Ron Sladon (1992); and John Sosby (1991).