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.
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, longtime New York Racing Association press office employee Shirley Day Smith, and Dallas Morning News columnist Gary West have been named 2001 award winners by the National Turf Writers Association.Voting by members of the organization selected Smith as recipient of the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing, Jerkens as winner of the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of horse racing, and West as deserving of the Walter Haight Award for career excellence in Turf writing.The awards will be presented at the NTWA's annual awards dinner, scheduled this year for Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Mineola, New York, three days prior to the running of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.Eclipse Award-winning trainer Jerkens was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame 26 years ago. He has trained such well-known runners as Sky Beauty, Beau Purple, Onion, Prove Out, and Devil His Due.Smith is typical of many hard-working behind the scenes employees at race tracks. She has worked tirelessly to help journalists during their visits to New York Racing Association tracks -- Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga.West covers racing and is a general sports columnist for the Morning News. He is the author of books on racing and a television commentator.