Achievement Award Winners
Worthy horsemen recognized with special recognition awards.
January 21, 2015
Each year, AQHA recognizes the outstanding work and efforts of worthy members of the racing American Quarter Horse industry. To be eligible, people must be nominated for the special recognition awards, and winners are then chosen by the AQHA Racing Committee.
Keith Babb is this year’s winner of the AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award. The Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award has been given to Will Fisch and the Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award winner is Jamie Zamora.
These awards were presented on January 21 at the AQHA Racing Champions Announcements at Heritage Place Sale Co. in Oklahoma City.
The Special Recognition Award is given based on lifetime achievements in American Quarter Horse racing, and this year recognizes legendary auctioneer Keith Babb, as he steps down from a hall of fame career.
Babb is considered the premier auctioneer in the country for American Quarter Horses. The Monroe, Louisiana, resident established his business in 1971 and it has become one of the leading auction companies in the south in the sale of farm machinery, business liquidations, real estate and registered livestock. Some have said Keith’s voice “sounds like money.” He has served as auctioneer at many major venues, including Heritage Place, Ruidoso, the NCHA Futurity, AQHA World Championship Show and many more.
A member of the National Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame, Babb wanted to be an auctioneer since he was a child. He began auctioneering full-time in 1971, and has hammered down tens of thousands of horses over his 40-year career. Among them are all-time leading sires First Down Dash and Mr Jess Perry, as well as record-setting horses Queen For Cash (sold for $1.125 million in 1982) and Tempting Dash (sold for $1.7 million in 2013).
Babb also received a lifetime achievement award from the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association.
Florida resident Will Fisch has volunteered thousands of hours on behalf of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, and for that, he receives the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award. The award is given to a man within the American Quarter Horse racing industry to recognize his achievement within the industry through the year.
Will Fisch is the father of Dr. Steve Fisch, who won the Gordon Crone in 2010, and Will has worked behind the scenes to keep Florida Quarter Horse racing growing, serving as the FQHRA treasurer for four years. A retired CPA and professor of accounting, he took care of accounting and auditing for the affiliate. Last year, Fisch was instrumental in defending a lawsuit against FQHRA by providing meticulous records, and he has also served various volunteer positions within FQHRA.
“FQRHA, and hence Quarter Horse racing in Florida, would probably not be here without the work and efforts of Will Fisch,” said his nominator. “He is a major reason Quarter Horse racing in Florida continues to thrive and is set to grow in spite of the many obstacles it has had to overcome.”
The Gordon Crone award is named for the late Kansas horseman and AQHA director, who worked to promote American Quarter Horse racing on a state and national level.
Jamie Zamora, a 54-year-old horsewoman from New Mexico, receives the Mildred N. Vessels Achievement Award, which is given to a woman to honor service to the industry in the past year.
A breast cancer survivor, Zamora has organized “Pink Days” at New Mexico tracks Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, Zia Park and The Downs at Albuquerque. Over the past six years, her efforts have raised about $30,000 for breast cancer research and treatment.
“I am so honored and so humbled by all this,” said Jamie, who has trained the earners of more than $3.1 million and whose husband, Chris, was the jockey who won the 1994 All American Futurity (G1) aboard Noblesse Six. “I never expected the Pink Days to go so well and become so big. And I sure never expected to win an award. I’m just so thankful for all of this.”
The Mildred N. Vessels award is named in honor of “Millie” Vessels, the influential California horsewoman who played major roles in developing Los Alamitos Race Course, Vessels Stallion Farm and the San Luis Rey Downs training center.
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