LEXINGTON – The Bluegrass Sports Commission (BSC) is proud to announce Verne Lundquist, Tom Leach, WinStar Farm and Sydney McLaughlin as the winners of the eighth annual Bluegrass Sports Awards. This year’s banquet will be held on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, at the Lexington Convention Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom.
“This event continues to grow and be one of the most fun nights of the year,” said BSC President & CEO Brian Miller. “I think our committee did an incredible job putting together our award winners and I can’t wait to celebrate them on January 30.”
Verne Lundquistwill receive the Tom Hammond Sports Media Award which is a national award presented to a broadcaster who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the field. Nationally, Lundquist worked for ABC Sports from 1974 to 1981, CBS from 1982 to 1995, and TNT from 1995 to 1997 before returning to CBS in 1998. In his return to CBS, Lundquist served as the long-time lead play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports’ coverage of college football on the SEC on CBS from 2000–2016.
In March 2018, Lundquist announced he would not work the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, as he was still recovering from back surgery he had in November 2017, and would retire from calling college basketball. Despite his retirement from calling college football and basketball, Lundquist remains active as an announcer, calling The Masters and the PGA Championship for CBS Sports this year. Lundquist has had his share of famous calls, but the most popular for Kentuckians is likely the 1998 Kentucky/Duke NCAA tournament game and his call of “the shot.”
From 1977–1983, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Lundquist as Texas Sportscaster of the Year for his accomplishments from his time in Dallas. The organization later inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2007. Lundquist is on the Board of Directors of the summer music festival, Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
“For over fifty years, Verne Lundquist has been associated with many of the world’s premier sporting events,” said Hammond. “His versatility is legendary, ably broadcasting a wide range of sports with some iconic calls that will live forever. His reputation as one of the world’s top sportscasters is exceeded only by his reputation as one of real gentlemen in the business. He is a friend and a worthy recipient of our National Media Award.”
Lundquist joins previous winners Dick Enberg, Brennaman, Cris Collinsworth, Larry Conley, Larry Collmus and John Rooney.
The Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award goes to Tom Leach. As a high school senior in Paris, Leach listed his ultimate career goal “to become the next Voice of the Wildcats.” Nearly every broadcaster covets that seat in Rupp Arena, but the dream came true for Tom. Leach began his work on the UK Radio Network in 1989 as host of the postgame scoreboard and call-in shows. Eight years later, he was named the play-by-play voice for Kentucky football and he added men’s basketball responsibilities in 2001. Since then, he’s been named Kentucky Sportscaster of the Year five times.
Leach has been at the microphone for many memorable moments for UK sports. These include the 2012 national championship for the Kentucky men’s basketball team and an upset of then number one-ranked LSU on the gridiron in 2007. He’s worked four Final Fours and nine bowl games while covering the Wildcats.
Leach is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Eclipse Award for excellence in coverage of Thoroughbred racing and he covers racing for Keeneland. Through his Tom Leach Productions company, he hosts a daily radio show on UK sports in The Leach Report. He is also an author, having penned “Rich Tradition,” about Rich Brooks and his revival of the UK football program and is a contributor to Keeneland.com providing daily pics on the day’s races.
“In the grand tradition of Claude Sullivan and Cawood Ledford, Tom Leach has continued the tradition of excellence as the voice of the Wildcats,” said Hammond. “His calls are accurate and exciting and reflect his deep knowledge of the events he broadcasts. He has become a Kentucky tradition and I am proud to honor him.”
Leach joins past winners Jennie Rees, Larry Vaught and Dick Gabriel, Mike Battaglia, Donna Brothers, Kenny Rice, Billy Reed and Jerry Tipton.
WinStar Farm will receive the 2019 Jim Host Sports Business Award. Owner Kenny Troutt and WinStar Farm have a history of success inside its fences, most notably 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify. WinStar also owns Super Saver, winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby; Drosselmeyer, winner of the 2010 Belmont Stakes; and Creator, winner of the 2016 Belmont Stakes.
WinStar also stands several notable stallions, including Tiznow, Distorted Humor and Pioneer of the Nile, sire of 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders Cup winner in American Pharoah. WinStar Farm won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner in 2010 and also won the Outstanding Breeder award in 2016.
WinStar won the prestigiousEclipse Award for Outstanding Owner in 2010 and was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder in 2008. WinStar Farm claimed the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder of 2016 after leading all North American breeders with earnings of $10,516,427, led by Tourist. Horses bred by WinStar earned 15 graded stakes wins and 239 overall wins in 2016, placing WinStar first in these categories as well.
“Kenny Trout and WinStar Farm are the gold standard in the horseracing industry. They routinely produce derby horses every year and this year they did it again with Triple Crown winner, Justify,” said Jim Host. “The impact and prestige that Kenny Troutt and his team bring to the Bluegrass is unparalleled. WinStar is very deserving of this award.”
WinStar joins previous winners the Lexington Center Corporation, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Bill Farish, Mitch Barnhart, Alan Stein, Jerry Carroll and Ted Bassett as the Jim Host Sports Business Award recipients.
Sydney McLaughlin, one of the most talented athletes ever at the University of Kentucky, will receive the Jim Host Youth Sports Award. After winning the national championship in the 400m hurdles in June at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, the Wildcat freshman phenom announced she would turn pro thus ending her illustrious collegiate career.
Despite rainy and cool conditions, McLaughlin won the women’s 400m hurdles by more than a second in 53.96 seconds, which ranks No. 8 on the NCAA all-time performers’ list and No. 2 in NCAA Championships history. She recorded her personal best of 52.75 in the 400m hurdles at the 2018 SEC Outdoor Championships in May of that year, which reset her own junior world record and came incredibly close to the world record of 52.34. McLaughlin set a World Junior Record in the 300m with a time of 36.12 in her UK debut at the Hoosier Open.
McLaughlin’s success prior to UK also set records. At 17, she became the youngest US Track and Field Olympian in 44 years after finishing fifth in the semifinal heat of the 400m hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was twice named the Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year in 2016 and 2017. In October 2018, McLaughlin turned professional and signed with the New Balance team.
“Sydney McLaughlin achieved more before the age of 17 than most do in a lifetime,” said Jim Host. “She was excellent at the University of Kentucky, the model for excellence in the track and field community, and an outstanding example for young people. Her achievements speak for themselves and I’m confident she will continue to make her mark on the world.”
Previous winners of the Youth Sports Award include Martha Layne Collins, Louis Stout, Dave Kerchner, Don Adkins, Mike Fields, Don Lane and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
The Committee of the 101 becomes the fifth recipient of the Bobby Flynn Volunteer of the Year Award, joining Flynn, Kim Sweazy, Stewart Perry and its former president Van Florence. The Committee of 101, a group of volunteers who usher Kentucky sporting events in their unmistakable blue coats, began in March of 1966 with a telegram to Adolph Rupp and the Kentucky basketball team a telegram of support during an away game. After Rupp noticed the group’s support, the “Committee of 101” was established with the simple mission of supporting UK athletics in any way possible. The Committee now has 325 members who pay dues but still work on a strictly volunteer basis and a waiting list of those who still want to join. At UK games, members serve as greeters, program sellers, locker room attendants, polite well-dressed security guards, as well as many other behind-the-scenes tasks.
In addition to football and basketball games, the Committee has worked baseball games, golf tournaments, track meets, basketball camps, the boy’s Sweet 16, NCAA Tournaments at Rupp and Memorial Coliseum, and several other miscellaneous events. They give back to the school via endowment funds and scholarships. In 2010, the group endowed a $50,000 academic scholarship to honor Florence, the club’s president for thirty years. In addition, they endowed $50,000 for the Bill Keightley scholarship for basketball managers, a $50,000 scholarship for the cheerleaders, as well as a $4,500 donation to the dance team. They also purchase 14 baseball season tickets and 20 women’s basketball season tickets each season, and during Florence’s tenure, donated $100,000 to the Joe Craft Center.
In addition to these awards, the Lexington Herald-Leader will once again present its annual Sports Figure of the Year Award live to cap off the evening. The event will consist of a reception with award winners and keynote speakers, a sit-down dinner and awards program. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the BSC and its efforts to grow the eonomic impact sports tourism has on central Kentucky. Tables of 10 are available for purchase for $1,250. Individual tickets are also available for $150.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 859-523-0009 or visit us online at www.bluegrasssports.org.
– BSC –