By Evan Hammonds
The success of American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in 2015, propelled breeder/owner Zayat Stables to be named national owner of the year Sept. 10 during the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s national awards. The awards dinner, which also featured several other national awards and state awards—that had been previously announced-- took place at Barbara Banke’s pictureque Stonestreet Farm outside Lexington.
TOBA’s top prize for Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables adds more hardware to the Eclipse Award earned for top owner earlier in the year to go along with American Pharoah’s Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male statuettes.
“He was the horse of a lifetime,” said Chad Lashbrook, who accepted the award for Zayat Stables. “We are so greatful to have and to have campaigned him; thanks go out to (trainer) Bob (Baffert) and (assistant) Jimmy (Barnes) and the whole Baffert team. They took great care of him, not only during his Triple Crown run, but prior to that with his injury as a 2-year-old; to bring him back to do what he did. Thank you for sharing the experience with us.”
During the TOBA program Zayat Stables was named Southern Region owner of the year and Littleprincessemma, the dam of American Pharoah, was named national broodmare of the year.
“I can’t tell you how exciting that year was, personally, and also because I got to share the most exciting experience I could have with my late husband (Frank Lyons),” said Jane Lyons, owner of Littleprincessemma. “I’d like to thank him and the connections of American Pharoah.
The national breeder of the year was Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, which earlier in the evening was the recipient of the Kentucky state award. Jimmy Bell, president of Darley USA, accepted the prize.
“It truly is an honor and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed,” said Bell. “This is really meaningful and very prestigious. It’s something that I think he would quickly want to acknowledge the efforts on the farm from the managers to the foremen with the broodmares and in the foaling barn. It is amazing just how many hands touch these horses that get to the final stage. It’s a tremendous honor. Thank you all very much.
The national small breeder of the year award went to Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds based on the 2015 exploits of The Pizza Man, the first Illinois-bred to win the Arlington Million (gr. IT).
Accepting the award was racing manager Jim Schenk.
Other honors were handed out to:
Peter Fenwick , recipient of the Robert N. Clay Award
Sound Prospect, Rood & Riddle Sport Horse of the Year
Key Power (Joseph Strazzanti), Claiming Crown Horse of the Year
Eastern Region Owner, Stonestreet Farm
Midwestern Region Owner, Ken and Sarah Ramsey
Western Region Owner, Reddam Racing