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Special Eclipse Awards announced; Farish, Koehler to be honored

January 15, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

William S. Farish to receive Eclipse Award of Merit

William S. Farish, owner of Lane’s End Farm and a pre-eminent industry leader of multiple organizations and causes, will be honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.

“I am so honored to have been selected for a sport which has given me and my family so much pleasure and enjoyment for the past 35 years,” said Farish, who resides in Lexington, Kentucky. “I am humbled to be chosen to join this list of outstanding people who have received this Award of Merit, many of whom have been long time friends.”

A successful owner and breeder who has served the Thoroughbred industry in a number of high-profile positions, Farish is one of the world’s most well-known and influential horsemen. He is a steward and vice chairman of The Jockey Club, a director and former chair of the executive committee of the Breeders’ Cup (for which his son, Bill, currently serves as chairman of the board), a member of the board of directors of the Keeneland Association, and a Keeneland trustee. He was chairman of the board of Churchill Downs from 1992-2001, where the company grew from a single race track to a multi-track corporation.

“Will Farish is deeply involved in every phase of the Thoroughbred Industry,” said Keeneland president Nick Nicholson. “If you follow the life cycle of the Thoroughbred each stage from mating, breeding, raising, registration, sales, training, racing, and then back to the farm for breeding, Will has positively impacted each step along the way. His knowledge, passion and willingness to give of his time for the betterment of the Industry and the sport have meant so much for the modern Thoroughbred world. We are grateful to have him serve as a trustee of Keeneland and appreciate his advice and counsel.”

In June, the William Stamps Farish Fund donated $1 million to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). As a member of the PDJF board, and working with its executive director, Nancy LaSala, Farish is helping to raise some $10-12 million to endow a fund that will provide continuous support for disabled riders. “The more I explored the situation,” said Farish, “the more I realized that a sustaining pool of monies was necessary. I feel that everyone who is associated with our sport realizes that a permanent source of funding is needed improve the lives of these disabled riders.”

Farish was born in Houston, Texas, and is the grandson of the late William S. Farish II, the founder of Humble Oil and Refining and chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey. Farish’s grandfather founded the famed Lazy F Ranch in Texas, which campaigned three-time Eclipse Award Champion Horse of the Year Forego in the mid-1970s.

Will Farish purchased his first Thoroughbred in 1963. In 1972, he campaigned Preakness Stakes winner Bee Bee Bee. In 1979, Farish founded Lane's End, a stallion and breeding farm and public sales operation that covers more than 3,000 acres near Lexington. Among the 22 stallions currently standing at Lane's End are 1992 Eclipse Award Champion Horse of the Year A.P. Indy; 2003 Eclipse Award Champion Horse of the Year Mineshaft, which Farish campaigned; leading sire Smart Strike; and Smart Strike's sons Curlin, Eclipse Award Champion Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008, and English Channel, 2007 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male. With the late Warner L. Jones Jr., Farish bred Seattle Dancer, who set the world-record price for a yearling when he was sold for $13.1 million in 1985. Farish is a two-time recipient of the Eclipse Award as leading breeder, including in 1999 when he and his partners bred the winners of all three Triple Crown races that year. Farish has raced more than 150 stakes winners in his name or with various partners.

From 2001-2004, Farish served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, and the Farishes have hosted Queen Elizabeth II on her visits to Kentucky, most recently to attend the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

“In his many leadership roles over the years, Will Farish has been an immensely important contributor to the sport and business of Thoroughbred racing,” said D.G. Van Clief, Jr., former president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. “Whether serving as an Epsom Oaks-winning U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, the chairman of Churchill Downs, a trustee of Keeneland or the master of Lane’s End Farm, his presence has ensured progress and success. I know firsthand that Will’s service as the chairman of the Breeders’ Cup executive committee was instrumental to its successful launch and subsequent growth as a world championship. Without him it would not be the globally respected event it is today. Wherever Will Farish has applied his personal brand of leadership the sport has benefited, and there is no more deserving recipient of this award.”

Monique Koehler to receive special Eclipse Award

Monique Koehler, who works tirelessly to save retired racehorses through Thoroughbred retirement programs, will be honored with the 2009 Special Eclipse Award. The Special Eclipse Award, honors outstanding individual achievements in, or contributions to, the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

A former advertising executive, Koehler, who resides in Middletown, New Jersey, became interested in the plight of racehorses that did not have “second careers” or could not be used for breeding after they were retired from racing. She founded the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in 1982 and helped to transform it into the largest retired equine rescue program in the nation with more than 1200 horses in its care. Since its inception, the TRF has been providing lifetime care, retraining and adoption for retired Thoroughbreds at TRF-operated farms in Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Tennessee and New York.

In the early stages of or the organization, Koehler negotiated a milestone agreement with the State of New York Department of Correctional Services. In exchange for land use and labor at the state's Walkill Correctional Facility, the TRF would design, staff and maintain a vocational training program in equine care and management for inmates.

The prison program was recently expanded at Wallkill and has been replicated at TRF farms located at the Blackburn Correctional Facility in Kentucky, the Marion County Correctional Facility in Florida, Wateree Correctional Facility in South Carolina, Putnamville Correctional Facility in Indiana, James River Work Center in Virginia, Sykesville Correctional in Maryland and the Plymouth County Jail in Massachusetts.

“I am very honored and humbled to have been selected as a recipient of this year’s Special Eclipse award,” said Koehler, who is board chairman emeritus of TRF. “When I established the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation nearly three decades ago, it was out of my personal concern for these noble animals and for humane causes in general. I was not involved with racing in any way except as a casual fan. However, as the years went by, the success of my personal mission became inexorably linked to that of dedicated members of the racing community including Penny Chenery, Allaire DuPont, Skip & Mary Shapoff, and many others. Without their support, understanding and guidance, my goals and those of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, could never have been accomplished. Through this award, I firmly believe that the Committee is recognizing all of us who have taken part in this life-enriching, life-saving quest.

“It has been a wonderful and fulfilling journey and I am able to take a large measure of satisfaction in what the TRF has been able to accomplish, and the thousands of horses we have saved, the many thousands more whose rescue, rehabilitation or adoption we have facilitated, and the men, women and children whose lives we have changed for the better through our pioneering vocational training programs.”

“I can think of no better honoree. Monique took a huge ugly problem and turned it into a life affirming, positive program in which racing, through its support and its horses, gives back to society”, said Diana Pikulski, executive director of the TRF and a volunteer for the organization since 1980. “Only someone as astute and resolute as Monique could accomplish this especially when she was so far ahead of the industry in her vision. I am thrilled for her and for the TRF.”