Special Achievement Winners

Congratulations to the newly recognized racing special achievement winners.

Q-Racing Journal

Congratulations to our special achievement winners.

Each year, the American Quarter Horse Association recognizes the hard work of several individuals in the racing industry. This year, the AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award goes to Laura Joiner and Mindy McArthur; the Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award to Dr. Janis Murray; and the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award to Paul Blanchard and Scott Wells.
 
AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award
Joiner and McArthur have teamed up to lift up the Sam Thompson Memorial Foundation, which honors the beloved man and jockey and helps the industry in many ways.

Thompson was well liked and highly respected both on and off the racetrack, and was an industry leader. He died in 2008 due to injuries suffered in a riding accident. Joiner and McArthur spearhead the efforts of the foundation, which gives assistance to disabled jockeys and also offers a scholarship to youth in the racing industry.

Earlier this year, the foundation gave out $38,000 in scholarship money to 10 youth, all of whom have family involved in the racing industry.

Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award
New Mexico horsewoman and veterinarian Dr. Janis Spencer Murray is honored with the Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award. This award is given to a woman in the industry to recognize her achievement within the industry during the past year.

Dr. Murray is part of the legendary breeding operation MJ Farms of Veguita, New Mexico, one of the top-10 all-time breeders by money earned. There she and her husband, Mac, have bred many leading runners and champions.

“Janis has an outstanding Quarter Horse breeding operation,” her nominator said. “She also helps educate people on equine reproduction to help keep the Quarter Horse racing industry alive. She is a great teacher.”

Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award
Two men share the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award, both recognized for their leadership – Paul Blanchard at Albuquerque Downs and Scott Wells at Remington Park.

“Each of these racetracks took a highly visible stand against racing on prohibited drugs,” said their nominator. “Both of these tracks, under the leadership of these two gentlemen, exemplified the goal of AQHA to provide the highest caliber of stakes racing opportunities free from the influence of prohibited medications.”

The aforementioned awards are determined by the AQHA Racing Council. During champion selections, the Champion Selection Committee has an opportunity to recognize members whom they feel deserve accolades. The committee used this authority to grant special recognition breeders awards to Julianna Hawn Holt of Blanco, Texas, and MJ Farms of Veguita, New Mexico.  

Holt, a 40-year breeder, in the past year bred All American Futurity (G1) winner Fly Baby Fly ($1,585,200). During the year, she bred 10 winners from 26 starters that earned more than $1.7 million.

MJ Farms is an all-time leading breeder, and last year bred 39 winners from 98 starters that earned more than $2.3 million. Those winners include stakes winners Carson City Girl ($130,954), Play Misty Foreme ($154,988), Daddys Blushing (189,321), Bigg Daddy ($661,418) and Jesse Lane ($154,452).