Hillwood Stable's Ellen Charles To Receive Special Award of Merit At Pimlico's Alibi Breakfast May 16

Ellen Charles | Keeneland

Longtime horsewoman and lifetime philanthropist Ellen Charles, who has bred or owned some of Maryland's most popular and successful horses of recent years, will be recognized with the Special Award of Merit May 16 during the Alibi Breakfast at historic Pimlico Race Course, 1/ST Racing said in a Wednesday release.

The Special Award of Merit is given to those who have made a positive impact on the racing industry. Past recipients have included Jim McKay, Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas and King Leatherbury and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

The Alibi Breakfast began in the 1930s on the porch of the old Pimlico clubhouse and features a gathering of media, owners, trainers, jockeys, horsemen and fans to celebrate the Preakness while gaining interesting and humorous race predictions.

Charles' roots in the racing industry run deep. Her mother, Adelaide Close Riggs, was one of the major supporters of Maryland's breeding and racing industry for nearly 70 years and her father, Merrall MacNeille, held many jobs in racing before spending more than 20 years as a steward at Maryland tracks.

Racing since 2004 as Hillwood Stable, named in tribute to her grandmother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, former owner of General Foods and heiress to the Post cereal fortune, Charles bred filly Hello Beautiful, Maryland's champion older female of 2021 that is one of just seven horses in history with three career Maryland Million wins.

Top horses owned by Charles include GSW Bandbox (Tapit), MSW Phlash Phelps (Great Notion), Maryland's 2015 turf champion, and many others. Charles was voted the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (MTHA) Owner of the Year in 2016.

Charles has sat on the MTHA board of directors and currently serves on the MTHA's finance and aftercare committees. For 25 years, Charles was president of the board of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C., helping realize her grandmother's dream to turn her former estate into a public museum known for its large decorative arts collection.

In addition to horses, Charles has bred and owned multiple dogs that went on to compete for Best in Show at the famed Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

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