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Podcast #55: POINT OF VIEW: Dogwood Dominion Award
Podcast Date:
04-23-2011
File Size: 4.6MB
Download File

Dogwood is discontinuing the Dominion Award this year. After 18 years, we feel that we have done our share of honoring the unsung heroes in racing. And we're proud to have done it. Lord knows they should be honored: the grooms, the people who take care of the old horses, the chaplains at the race track, and just folks who watch out for each other, the unrecognized men and women who make our sport and industry a better place to work and live-these are the ones who were nominated year after year. The winner got $5,000, a bronze of our wonderful old horse Dominion and were hosted at ritzy luncheon affair at the Saratoga Reading Rooms. It went to 18 recipients, men and women from all parts of America.

While other motives may be read into it, we simply feel we have done it for a long time, it did a lot of good, it spawned other similar events of recognition, and now we are ready to quit doing it. It is a lot of work and a lot of expense by the time we buy the bronzes, host the luncheon, write the check and do a good bit of advertising and traveling.

The Mother Hen of the Dominion Award is our PR Director Mary Jane Howell, who must handle the nitty gritty of putting it on each year. This involves seeking the nominations, validating the facts concerning the candidates-usually around 30-preparing the dossiers for the three judges-Anne Campbell, Jay Hovdey and Todd Pletcher. In other words, she has made it happen, and it has not been easy, but she loves it, and has been sad, but understanding about our quitting and hoping someone else picks up the banner.

God bless the judges. They each get about 30 dossiers of candidates to peruse and agonize over, and agonize they do. Much credit to Todd Pletcher, Jay Hovdey, and Anne, who have spent many hours poring over the facts and making their picks. They are busy people, they took this chore very seriously. So too did the former judges, Pat Day, Penny Chenery, Jerry Bailey, and the late Mack Miller.

The award had its birth in England, with an ex-Dogwood horse. I bought Dominion as a three year old in England in 1977. He had run third in the 2000 Guineas, had won stakes in France and Germany. I brought him over here, and he was a five-o'clock-Saturday-afternoon horse if there ever was one. He criss-crossed the nation and danced in many big dances. He may not have been the very best horse in training but he did not know that. Dominion won six stakes, placed in eleven others. And he always came to run. In the paddock he was alarmingly quiet, like an old milk cow, but when they jogged back after the race was over, every vein in his body was distended, his eyes were blazing, and you can be sure that when he had turned for home moments earlier, he had every intention of winning the race.

When Dominion was through racing, we sold him back to England, where he was five times champion sire in races won. He produced horses like himself-pure hickory, genuine, workmanlike racehorses.

So pronounced was that trait that the British breeders originated what they called "The Industry Award," honoring a behind-the-scenes person whose modest labors made a difference. They commissioned and presented to the recipient a bronze statuette in the likeness of Dominion because he epitomized reliability, earnestness and courage.

When the horse died, we moved the award to America and called it the Dogwood Dominion Award. The best thing about it is that we helped create a splendid highlight in the life of eighteen different people. We chose the site of Saratoga because that great racing city is the very essence of class, graciousness and quality in the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing.

Several organizations have made noises about picking up the Dominion Award, and continuing the tradition. The old horse would get a kick out of that.

This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.

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