Sal Sinatra, Irish War Cry win Md. Racing Media awards

by | Feb 15, 2018 | Breaking, Business, Maryland, MD Business

From a Maryland Racing Media Association release

He may be a New Jersey-bred, but Irish War Cry will also be named 2017 Maryland-based Horse of the Year by the Maryland Racing Media Association (MRMA). Irish War Cry’s connections will receive the honors Saturday at Laurel Park on a day featuring six stakes races.

Also receiving awards from MRMA during the day will be:

  • Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club track photographer, who will receive the organization’s Humphrey S. Finney Award for lifetime achievement in Maryland racing. McCue has been the track photographer at Maryland’s major tracks for nearly 50 years.
  • Sal Sinatra, Maryland Jockey Club president, who will receive the Dale Austin Newsmaker Award. The award, named for the late longtime Baltimore Sun racing reporter, honors those who have made big news during 2017. Sinatra has overseen dramatic improvements in the MJC’s facilities and racing product and substantial handle growth during his tenure in Maryland. In 2017, the Maryland Jockey Club’s total handle exceeded $600 million for the first time in nearly a decade.
  • Lacey Gaudet, a Laurel Park-based trainer, who will receive the Nancy Alberts Breakthrough Award, named for the late Maryland-based trainer who conditioned Magic Weisner to a stunning second-place finish in the 2002 Preakness and won 161 races in her training career. Gaudet, the daughter of late trainer Eddie Gaudet and Linda Gaudet, also a trainer, as well as the sister of racing analyst and television personality Gabby Gaudet, won a combined 53 races in 2016-17 after never having won more than 10 in a single season. She also won several stakes and nearly $1.5 million in purse earnings during the two years.

“The Maryland Racing Media Association is pleased to present its annual awards to Jim McCue, Sal Sinatra, and Lacey Gaudet,” said MRMA president Frank Vespe. “Jimmy McCue has been a Maryland fixture for decades, a friendly face in the winner’s circle, an accommodating friend and colleague – and a terrific photographer. It would be hard to think of an individual who has given more to racing here in Maryland than Jimmy.

The resurgence of Maryland racing in recent years has been perhaps the biggest and best racing story in the nation,” Vespe continued, “and Sal Sinatra’s work to move the Maryland Jockey Club forward has been essential to that renaissance. We’re pleased to present this award to him and look forward to even more success in the years to come.”

Of Gaudet, Vespe noted, “It’s been fascinating in the last couple of years to see Lacey Gaudet pick up where her father, the late Eddie Gaudet, and mother Linda left off – winning races, scoring her first stakes wins, and taking the first key steps in a very promising career. Just as her sister is moving up the ranks of racing’s television personalities, Lacey has been establishing her presence as a top Maryland trainer.”

Irish War Cry, based at Fair Hill Training Center and trained by Graham Motion, broke his maiden and won the Marylander Stakes at Laurel Park in late 2016, but it was in 2017 that he established himself as among the better runners of his foal crop. The Curlin colt won a pair of Grade 2 races, the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and also was a game second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. He was bred by his owner, Isabelle de Tomaso, and now has surpassed $1 million in career earnings.

“Irish War Cry was yet another high-quality runner from the top-class barn of Graham Motion,” Vespe said. “We were fortunate to see him begin his career here in Maryland as a juvenile and then to watch as he competed with – and often defeated – some of the best 3-year-olds of 2017 and we look forward to covering him in 2018.”

The Maryland Racing Media Association is the nation’s oldest state-level racing media organization, formed in 1937. In addition to presenting awards, it has for years sponsored a thoroughbred industry scholarship program and was instrumental in founding the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.