Horse racing’s fans have spoken, and Winx, Australia’s queen of racing, has been voted the winner of the 2018 Secretariat Vox Populi Award in the year-end online poll. Created by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, the award annually recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the general public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
Winx was the top choice among U.S. voters as well as international fans representing a record 60 countries. The 7-year-old bay mare has garnered the devotion of turf enthusiasts Down Under as well as the attention of a worldwide legion of fans with her impressive 29 consecutive wins. In 2018, her historic fourth straight victory in Australia’s prestigious Cox Plate, along with a perfect 7-for-7 record, extended her ongoing streak and added to her current career earnings of more than $16 million USD.
The custom-made Vox Populi trophy will be presented to the Winx connections on Jan. 12, 2019, at Santa Anita Park. In conjunction with the presentation, a variety of festivities will be offered to the public, including a special Vox Populi poster giveaway, autograph signing and silent auction.
Winx’s rise to stardom is reminiscent of that of Zenyatta, the 2010 Vox Populi winner whose own magical winning streak also inspired a large fan base. Additionally, the two regal race mares were sired by the revered stallion Street Cry and share the distinction of being the only females to be honored as award recipients.
“Racing certainly offered many historical and heartwarming stories in 2018,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy. “And once again, the ‘Voice of the People’ spoke very clearly. The fact that both the American public and voters abroad were not limited by international borders is a wonderful testament to the growth of the award and the winner’s global appeal. Winx represents everything Mom envisioned when she created this award and reaffirms her notion that a beloved horse will captivate fans and draw interest to the sport no matter where they race.”
Trained by Chris Waller and ridden by jockey Hugh Bowman, Winx is owned by Magic Bloodstock, Debbie Kepitis and Richard Treweeke.
Winx was one of a select group of nominees submitted by the Vox Populi Committee and presented to thousands of voters worldwide who spoke as the “Voice of the People.” Other nominees were 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, European distaff sensation Enable, 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, and champion filly Monomoy Girl. Voters also had the option to write in their own favorite.
Throughout the process, Winx prevailed and now joins a list of cherished racing stars who have also received the Vox Populi Award: Ben’s Cat (2017), California Chrome (2016 and 2014), American Pharoah (2015), Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and Zenyatta (inaugural 2010).
What is the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award?
“Vox Populi” is an age-old Latin expression that literally means “voice of the people.” The award gives recognition to the horse that generated the most fan response during the year.
What motivated you to create the Award?
Racing has an established award system in place that is fundamentally based on past performance. But there is nothing that honors the horse that best captures the attention and affection of the public. The fans are the life-blood of our sport and their collective “voice” deserves to be heard and formally recognized. In the past decade alone, extremely popular horses like Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Barbaro all captivated the imagination of the public but were ultimately left unrecognized in terms of traditional divisional year-end honors. How can we, as an industry, expect the rest of the world to embrace our sport when we don’t annually honor our most beloved horses internally?
How will the winner of the Award be decided?
Each year the winner will be selected based upon the horse who most resonates with the public and gains recognition for the sport. I envision a democratic process involving a diverse panel of distinguished racing personalities and representatives, from within and outside the industry, working together in unison with the “voice” of the general public. The selection process will involve the utilization of an open on-line poll to help quantify public opinion.
What is the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award’s relationship to the Eclipse Awards?
The Eclipse Awards recognizes the “professional’s” choice based upon the evaluation of statistical track performances. The Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award measures the “public’s” choice and their emotional sentiment. While the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award may or may not be bestowed upon an Eclipse Award candidate, it is simply not concerned or constrained by who beat whom in which race. The Award reflects who the fans were pulling for. And it is not meant to conflict with the Eclipse Awards but to enhance how we honor our racing heroes.
How will the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award be presented?
An award that speaks for the public should allow the public to participate in its ceremony. It is my hope the presentation to the winner can take place at a public racing venue where fans of any age are invited to come and celebrate the winner’s accomplishments and express their affection with the connections.
What is your future vision for the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award?
I would like it to provide an ongoing platform for the voice of the fans to honor the horses they love, a touchstone for what they deem best and brightest within our sport.
Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award committee members:
Charlsie Cantey – National television horse racing analyst and commentator
Steve Cauthen – Hall of Fame jockey and 1978 Triple Crown winner aboard Affirmed
Mark Ciardi – Mayhem Pictures, Producer of 2010 Disney Studio’s film “Secretariat”
Bob Curran – Former Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable who campaigned Funny Cide
Eric Wing – Former Daily Racing Form Advertising Director
Amy Zimmerman – Executive Producer, HRTV and Producer for NBC and ESPN racing telecasts
Brian Zipse – Managing Editor and columnist for Horse Racing Nation