(Edited press release)
The Association of Racing Commissioners International has named Kentucky Horse Racing Commission executive director Lisa Underwood the winner of its Len Foote Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to horse racing. The award is given each year to the executive director who best demonstrates the attributes of leadership and achievement.
The association also gave the Joan F. Pew Award to KHRC commissioner Edward “Ned” Bonnie. The Joan F. Pew Award, established more than 20 years ago, is named for a former president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The award recognizes a current commissioner, picked by his or her peers, who best exemplifies the vision, vitality, courage, and dedication of Pew, who also was the first woman to serve as a racing commissioner. The awards were presented the night of April 23 at the RCI meeting on wagering and racing security held in Lexington.
“Lisa’s leadership in moving the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission forward at a time when the industry is undergoing tremendous upheaval has been remarkable,” said Bob Beck, chair of the KHRC. “When Gov. Beshear appointed a task force to study and recommend ways in which the commonwealth needed to address the integrity and financial issues of this industry, Lisa brought together the many disparate opinions and was instrumental in crafting a very workable plan that I believe will deliver many solid results in years to come.
“She is to be congratulated for her work and for this well-deserved recognition. And, I doubt that anyone over the years has been more involved and instrumental in bringing about needed change to this industry than Ned Bonnie. His tireless efforts are matched only by his keen desire to see horse racing in Kentucky return to its preeminent place as the leader in the industry.”
Some of those changes in Kentucky’s racing laws and regulations that have taken place under the leadership of Underwood and Bonnie include the banning of anabolic steroids, toe grabs, and riding crop rules. In addition, the KHRC has begun to address integrity and security issues.
“Ned’s interests in advancing the safety concerns of riders and horses have helped sharpen the focus of regulators for many years,” said Bob Vance, secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet, which administratively oversees the KHRC. “His continued work on the KHRC and as an outspoken advocate for the industry continues to bring progressive change where needed. This award is very appropriate, and I congratulate him.”
Underwood was named executive director of the then Kentucky Horse Racing Authority in October 2006. She had served as deputy commissioner of the former Department of Public Protection and general counsel for the Authority before being named executive director.
Bonnie is senior counsel and partner at Frost Brown Todd and owns a horse and cattle farm in Oldham County.