The Texas Thoroughbred Association has released an online video honoring the 2020 Texas Champions and human award winners. Traditionally the TTA would have an in-person awards ceremony, but one will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we are disappointed in not having an awards ceremony this year, we are proud of the accomplishments of Texas-breds and Texas horsemen last year, and we are pleased to honor them with this video,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “Congratulations go out to all the award winners.”
The 2020 Texas Champion horses were previously announced, and those horses are highlighted in the video along with four human award winners that were not previously announced. The video can be viewed on the TTA’s Facebook page and at https://youtu.be/9f3C63Mrk6A.
The T.I. “Pops” Harkins Award for lifetime achievement was awarded to Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and Joe Straus Jr.
McIngvale has found great success in both the business world and on the racetrack. His Houston-based Gallery Furniture has sponsored numerous stakes races over the years and frequently features racing-related promotions, including one involving the 2021 Kentucky Derby that helped raise the profile of the sport to non-racing fans. He won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Runhappy and now stands the stallion and often sponsors racing events to promote him. He is also a noted philanthropist and has supported numerous charitable efforts within and beyond the world of racing.
Straus is one of the founding fathers of modern Texas horse racing. He was instrumental in the passage of pari-mutuel wagering laws in the state and is a co-founder of Retama Park near San Antonio. Straus also serves as chairman of the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame, of which he is also an inductee. Also a successful breeder and owner, Straus has worked hard to ensure a level playing field for horsemen and served on the Texas A&M Target 2000 committee and spearheaded efforts for the Texas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to serve as the lead agency to test competition racehorses.
The Allen Bogan Memorial Award for TTA member of the year was awarded to Bill Tracy and Martha Claussen.
Tracy is a longtime TTA member and Texas horseman who worked at JEH Stallion Station in New Mexico and Oak Tree Ranch in Bandera, Texas, and presently is farm manager at Mike Grossman’s Eureka Thoroughbred Farm in Fredericksburg, Texas. He has served on the TTA board for a combined total of nearly 20 years, and he has also served on the board of the TTA’s Paddock Foundation and as president of the Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund. In his work to support TTA and Texas racing, he has testified before the Texas Racing Commission and spent numerous hours working with legislators to highlight the importance of horse racing to our state.
Claussen has worked to promote Texas horse racing for nearly 25 years after being hired as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park in 1997. Since then, she has distributed countless news releases and photos to better inform the media and general public about the special people and horses in our sport. While many news releases just list out basic information, Claussen always goes the extra mile to include quotes from the winning connections and other details to recognize the effort it takes to win a stakes race. She is among the most active and recognized voices on social media when it comes to Texas horse racing, and she is a familiar face nationwide from her frequent winner’s circle interviews.
Following is the complete list of the previously announced 2020 champion horses:
2-Year-Old Filly: Con Lima (by Commissioner) • Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Graffeo, Joseph F., Del Toro, Eric Nikolaus and Johnson, Troy • Breeder: Lisa Kuhlmann
2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Hulen (by Tapiture) • Owner: L. William and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Madaket Stables LLC and Spendthrift Farm LLC • Breeder: Keith Asmussen
3-Year-Old Filly: Boerne (by Fed Biz) • Owner: De Luca and Sons Stable • Breeder: Randi and Eric Moreau-Sipiere
3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Gold Pilot (by My Golden Song) • Owner: Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch • Breeder: Ronald and Margaret Ellerbee
Older Filly/Mare: Ima Discreet Lady (by Discreet Cat) • Owner: Duane Coker and Raymond Todd White • Breeder: Larry S. Huntsinger
Co-Champion Older Horse: Sunlit Song (by My Golden Song) • Owner: Carolyn Barnett and Becky Harding • Breeder: Carolyn Barnett
Texas Champion Claimer: Meme Jo (by Too Much Bling) • Owner: John L. Pierce II • Breeder: Jeanne Bruce
Champion Broodmare: My Silver Song (by My Golden Song)
Horse of the Year and Co-Champion Older Horse: Redatory (by Oratory) • Owner/Breeder: James Wessel