Breeders' Cup founder John R. Gaines was posthumously honored as this year's Equine Industry Vision Award recipient by Pfizer Animal Health and American Horse Publications at a June 10 ceremonial breakfast held during the AHP Horse By Northwest Seminar in Seattle.
"John Gaines personifies the visionary spirit which the Equine Industry Vision Award serves to recognize," said Dan Kramer, senior marketing manager of equine business at Pfizer Animal Health. "His countless contributions to the horse world continue to reach across disciplines and throughout the country, and his service to our industry will be long remembered."
Gaines died Feb. 11 at age 76. The award was accepted by his nephew and two-time Breeders' Cup winner Alex Hassinger.
"John Gaines was a true visionary and a great leader," Hassinger said. "His influence touched virtually every aspect of the industry. The Equine Industry Vision Award represents a fitting tribute to the commitment and dedication for which John Gaines stood."
With contributions that spanned over an illustrious 40 years, Gaines is remembered for changing the face of Thoroughbred racing forever. From establishing the celebrated Breeders' Cup, to his pivotal role in the formation of the National Thoroughbred Association, the predecessor of today's National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), he worked tirelessly to broaden the scope of the game.
NTRA commissioner and CEO Tim Smith echoed industry sentiment when he described Gaines as the quintessential administrator and a preeminent innovator.
"He, indeed, had the vision of a true pioneer . . . and along with vision, he helped make it happen," Smith said.
John Gaines' inspiration for what would become the Kentucky Horse Park and the National Horse Center is another example of the profound impact he has had on the industry.
"Today, due to his efforts, the Kentucky Horse Park has evolved into the nation's leading equine entertainment, event, and learning facility" said the Kentucky Horse Park's executive director John Nicholson. "It also serves as the home to nineteen leading equestrian associations at the park's National Horse Center, which itself is symbolic of the unity of leadership and common purpose that Mr. Gaines has for so long advocated for our industry,"
With an abiding interest in genetics and healthcare the owner of Gainesway Farm revolutionized several key breeding and management programs, culminating in the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky.
Gaines' wife Joan put it best when recounting her husband's accomplishments. Posing the question, "What makes greatness?" she answered by saying, "Having engendered respect and support from his peers has been John Gaines' genius and the foundation for his many successes. What makes greatness? I believe it is reflected in his legacy that will surely resonate throughout the equine world for generations to come."
The finalists who were considered for this year's award will be entered in next year's Equine Industry Vision Award contest. They are as follows: Stanley F. Bergstein, Dr. Douglas Herthel, Dr. Matthew Mackay-Smith, David O'Connor, and Pat Parelli.
To request a nomination ballot for 2006, please contact Chris Brune, executive director, American Horse Publications at (386)-760-7743 or email AHorsePubs@aol.com. Nomination information is also available at the AHP website at www.americanhorsepubs. All materials are due by Jan. 10, 2006.