For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jade Eisenzimmer
BRAULIO BAEZA, JR., ROBERT POLLOCK, KIM SAWYER, AND SUSAN WALSH NAMED 2019 PETE PEDERSEN “OUTSTANDING STEWARDS” AWARD WINNERS
Lexington, Ky. (December 10, 2019) — The Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) today announced the winners of the 2019 Pete Pedersen Award, which is presented to stewards who have demonstrated professional excellence, integrity, and benevolent consideration in the performance of their duties. Contributions of time and expertise to the horse racing industry on the local and national levels are also significant factors in the selection of Pedersen award winners.
The award is named in honor of Pete Pedersen, the nationally recognized California steward and accomplished journalist who set a standard of excellence to which all stewards should aspire. This year’s recipients were recognized today at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program’s Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming Awards Luncheon in Tucson.
Braulio Baeza, Jr.
Braulio was born into a racing family. His father is U.S. Racing Hall of Fame jockey, Braulio Baeza. His formative years were constructed between racetracks and formal education. By the time he began working at the stand as a Steward at the three NYRA tracks in 2005; he had performed the following tasks at various tracks: groom, foreman, exercise rider, asst. trainer, blacksmith’s apprentice, vet’s asst’, licensing and credentials, asst’ starter, clerk of scales, asst’ racing secretary, horse ID, paddock judge and placing judge. He was also the first bilingual Latin Steward in New York.
Bob Pollock is in his 6th decade of being a horse racing official. He grew up in a horse racing family in Oklahoma where his parents were owners and trainers. He began in 1968 at Park Jefferson as a steward then went on to Nebraska where he worked various postions such as placing judge, assistant racing secretary, racing secretary, steward, and director of racing. The positions were held at various tracks such as Ak-Sar-Ben, Fonner Park, Lincoln Columbus, Madison and Atokad. In 1995, he became a steward at the newly built Retama Park then general manager until 2008. Bob was inducted to the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame in 2009 where he soon after became the state steward, a position he still holds today.
Kim Sawyer has been an active participant in horse racing since she began as a groom and exercise rider. She was first licensed in 1968 and later became a jockey, then became an assistant trainer, later a trainer, and after began working in racing as an official where in the early 90’s, she quickly climbed the ladder in the racing office from placing judge to Horse ID to assistant racing secretary. Shortly in the early 2000’s, she began as the first female to hold down the title of associate steward then later became a state steward of Ohio until she took her talents to California in 2005. Since then she has become one of the three Stewards on the California circuit.
With the birth of their first foal in 1976, Susan Walsh led two lives: a teacher of Latin in Cambridge, Ma and owner/breeder/trainer of Thoroughbreds at Suffolk Downs before and after school. One of her homebreds, Sunny Stand, by their own stallion, was New England Champion 3yo of 1994. In 2001 she became a state Steward at Suffolk Downs, a job which she found even more challenging than breeding and training. She’ll also go down on record as the last Chief Steward of Suffolk Downs, which closed this year. She’s written two books; one a history of the farm where they raised their horses, Edgewood: an old farm in the new millennium, and another, soon to be released, Chain of Foals, an account of all the horses raised within.
The Pete Pedersen Award special selection committee is composed of seven members; Rick Baedeker, CHRB executive director; Hall of Fame jockey, Pat Day; Wendy Davis, The University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program director; former The Jockey Club steward and NYRA track veterinarian Dr. Ted Hill; Dan Metzger, TOBA president; Scott Wells, president of Remington Park and Lone Star Park; and former leading trainer and ROAP accredited steward Hal Wiggins.
Pete Pedersen, for whom the award is named, worked as a steward in California for 50 years before retiring at the age of 85 in 2005. The Seattle native became the second steward to receive the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2002. He was also the recipient of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award in 2008 for serving the racing industry with integrity, dedication, determination and distinction. Pedersen worked at nearly every track on the West Coast, and his reputation for objectivity and kindness was widely known.
ROAP, which receives primary funding from The Jockey Club and is based in its Kentucky office, is a 501(c)(6) organization whose board of directors is made up of representatives from 18 industry organizations and eight at-large representatives. Stewards and judges receive their accreditation and continuing education credits through this program. The website address for ROAP is horseracingofficials.com.