The following is an edited press release of a conversation with Breeders’ Cup CEO Craig Fravel discussing the Breeders’ Cup’s involvement in supporting the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA) this year. The conversation was provided by Godolphin.
G: Tell us about your experience as a participant on the final judging panel at the TIEA last year.
CF: Acting as a judge for the Thoroughbred Industry Awards in 2017 was one of my best work days other than the Breeders’ Cup itself. It was a long day, but incredibly inspiring to hear the stories of dedication and hard work by people who often go unrecognized. I can say without hesitation that the worst part of it was being forced to choose among great people with compelling backgrounds and a great commitment to the horses. I just wish there were three winners in each category, although just being a finalist is a great accomplishment and Godolphin makes sure that each finalist is recognized appropriately.
G: The Breeders’ Cup has pledged monetary support for the Thoroughbred Industry Awards this year. Obviously, your personal experience was a positive one, but what would you say about the importance of these awards to our industry?
CF: One thing I have always loved about racing is the broad spectrum of people who comprise the industry. The racetrack (which is where the majority of my career has been spent) and the farm are both melting pots that bring together people with diverse backgrounds, nationalities and experience. Each part of the business has a unique contribution to the game, and it is important that we as an industry respect and reward those who are hands on with the horses every day. After all, we all know what extraordinary level of care goes into making sure the horses are at their best, and the sacrifices and devotion of backstretch and farm workers deserve our respect. Our game starts and ends with the horse and without their commitment we wouldn’t have a game. Because the Breeders’ Cup straddles the worlds of the farm and the track, it is particularly appropriate that we support the work Godolphin is doing to make sure this recognition continues.
G: Breeders’ Cup week is always one filled with activity and excitement. This year these awards are right in the middle of the action being held on the Wednesday before Championship Weekend. What was the thought behind moving the awards?
CF: Since I started working at the Breeders’ Cup in 2011, we have worked hard to extend our programming to encompass the entire week leading up to the event with industry and community events. It adds to the excitement and gives our customers, horsemen and supporters a reason to engage with the event more completely. The bottom line is that it is more fun if there are other events that week that inspire and/or entertain. To add the Thoroughbred Industry Awards to the mix also adds to the experience for the finalists who get to experience the excitement of a world-class event. It is overused, but in this case it really is a win/win and I hope we can even have the winners and finalists help out in the Winners’ Circle for one of the races.
G: What comments might you make to those that might be thinking about nominating one of their employees, coworkers, managers or friends?
CF: Vote early and vote often might be good advice, but more seriously I hope people take into account how meaningful these awards are and the pride the nominees take in having been put forward. It costs nothing and the appreciation of employees for a thoughtful nomination is a huge benefit. As someone said to me once, it may be “psychic income,” but a pat on the back and a thank you is always a great way to motivate employees, and simply nominating someone for this award is a great way to say thanks.