The Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) today announced the winners of the 2017 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.
Allen Fairbanks (Retired Category)
The late Allen Fairbanks served as state steward at Thistledown for 21 years, retiring in 2004. Prior to his time at the Cleveland-area track, he served in the stewards’ stand at Detroit Race Course and Hazel Park in Michigan, Balmoral Park in Illinois, Green Mountain Race Track in Vermont, Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania, and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida. An accomplished jockey on the east coast in the 1950s and 1960s, Fairbanks was a multiple graded stakes winner, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Allen was a medical corpsman and ambulance driver in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany. Prior to his military service, Allen was a professional rodeo roper and bull and bronc rider.
Ralph D’Amico (Active Category)
Ralph D’Amico is serving in his 23rd year as the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) presiding state steward at Prairie Meadows in Des Moines, Iowa. His time in the stand also includes tenures at Oaklawn Park and Birmingham Race Course, as well as working as a Standardbred judge and Greyhound judge in Iowa. Ralph started in racing as a jockey in Ohio and was twice leading rider at Thistledown. The winner of more than 1,000 races, D’Amico was elected to the Ohio Sports Hall of Fame. D’Amico is on the IRGC Rules Task Force and has assisted on several occasions with the American Quarter Horse Association Youth Racing Experience.
“The ROAP board of directors is proud to recognize Ralph D’Amico and Allen Fairbanks as our 2017 Pete Pedersen Award winners,” commented Dan Fick, ROAP vice chairman. “Ironically, Ralph rode under Allen when both were at Thistledown, and they became good friends. Both are known for being strict, but fair-minded stewards who put an emphasis on rider safety.”
The Pete Pedersen Award special selection committee is composed of five members from ROAP-affiliated organizations: Rick Baedeker (California Horse Racing Board), Wendy Davis (University of Arizona), Dan Metzger (Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association), Terry Meyocks (Jockeys’ Guild), and Scott Wells (Remington and Lone Star Parks).
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.
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