LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2015) — The Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) announced today five winners of the 2015 Pete Pedersen Award, which is presented annually to stewards who have made important contributions to the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing industries.
The award is named in honor of the longtime outstanding steward and noted journalist Pete Pedersen, who died in August 2012. The recipients were recognized at the Awards Luncheon at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program’s Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming in Tucson, Ariz.
“This is our second year of recognizing horse racing stewards for their dedication and contributions to our great sport,” said ROAP Chairman Hugh Gallagher. “This lady and these four gentlemen have excelled as career racing officials by bringing integrity, consistency and a commitment to a level playing field for all horsemen and women. Their passion and professional performance are great examples for stewards throughout the country.”
The five winners are:
George Slender is a ROAP-accredited steward with the California Horse Racing Board and over the last 43 years has officiated at every track in California, working Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and all-breeds fair race meets. From 1959 to 1972, George, a former horse trainer, held positions as placing judge, paddock judge, horse identifier and starter. He was recently inducted into the Santa Rosa Junior College Sports Hall of Fame.
After retiring from race riding in 1975, Blum, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., worked as a racing official at Garden State Park and Atlantic City Race Course in New Jersey. In 1978, he moved to Florida, where he served as state steward in the south Florida racing circuit (Hialeah, Gulfstream, and Calder) until his retirement in 2004. Blum was named to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame for an outstanding 22-year riding career, riding mainly on the east coast from New England to Florida. He is the only jockey to win six races in one day at Monmouth Park. In the 1960s Blum rode seasonally in Southern California, winning the 1966 Santa Anita Derby and the 1971 Belmont Stakes. He was elected president of the Jockeys' Guild in 1969, a position he held until 1974. In 1986, Blum was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
First licensed as a steward in 1993, Barb Borden currently serves as a ROAP-accredited steward in Kentucky. She has been a steward at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Bluegrass Downs, and Dueling Grounds. Borden has held numerous racing official positions including licensing administrator, detention barn assistant, horse identifier and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund administrator. Borden participates on the License Review, Rules and Regulations and Safety and Integrity Committees of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. An accomplished horsewoman, Barb is a staunch advocate for Thoroughbred aftercare and sits on the board of the horse rescue group, Second Stride.
Dave Hicks, who retired in 2013, served as a steward at the New York Racing Association tracks, Gulfstream Park, Rockingham Park and Suffolk Downs, among others. During his years at NYRA, Hicks was active in the rule review/development process, with “house rules” and with the New York Racing and Wagering Board rules. He also organized and personally conducted a weekly program for apprentice jockeys. He had a similar program in Florida before coming to New York and has initiated this program again in Florida. Before becoming a racing official, Hicks was a Thoroughbred horse trainer in New England.
Leo O’Donnell began serving as a steward in the Northeast at Rockingham Park, Suffolk Downs, Lincoln Downs,Narragansett Park, Green Mountain in Vermont and various New England fair meets. Later in his 35-year career, he worked the tracks in Florida, West Virginia, Ohio, Oregon and Kentucky at Miles Park, Latonia, Keeneland and Churchill Downs. A racehorse trainer and steeplechase jockey, Leo championed the rights of the horsemen and women. O’Donnell was a founding member of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and served as the National HBPA president in 1946. Leo was also very much involved with the start of uniform rule-making. In 1980, he received the Joe Palmer Award from the National Turf Writers Association.
Pete Pedersen, for whom the award is named, worked as a steward in California for 50 years before retiring at the age of 85 in 2005. The Seattle native became the second steward to receive the Eclipse Award of Merit, in 2002. He was also the recipient of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award in 2008 for serving the racing industry with integrity, dedication, determination and distinction. Pedersen worked at nearly every track on the West Coast, and his reputation for objectivity and kindness is widely known.
The Pete Pedersen Award special selection committee is composed of five members from ROAP-affiliated organizations: Rick Baedeker (ARCI / California Horse Racing Board), Tim Capps (University of Louisville), Dan Metzger (Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association), Terry Meyocks (Jockeys’ Guild) and Scott Wells (Thoroughbred Racing Associations).