NTWAB Press Release
The National Turf Writers and Broadcasters will present Cindy Hutter, who continues her inspiring recovery from a severe brain injury sustained in a training accident in July 2022, with the Bill Mooney Award for displaying courage in the face of tremendous adversity.
Born and raised in Romansville, Pennsylvania, near the horse-centric area of Unionville, Hutter started riding at a young age before going to work for trainer Bruce Miller after she turned 16. Hutter later worked for D. Wayne Lukas, galloping such stars as Winning Colors, Thunder Gulch, Open Mind and Flanders; and later for Todd Pletcher, working with more greats such as More Than Ready, Jersey Girl and Graeme Hall.
Hutter and her husband, trainer George Weaver, launched their own stable in 2002. With Hutter serving as assistant and lead exercise rider, the couple campaigned Grade 1 winners Lighthouse Bay and Vekoma and graded stakes winners Christine’s Outlaw, Daddy Is a Legend, Devil’s Preacher, Drum Major, Falling Sky, Isotherm, Main Event, Majestic Dunhill, Pass the Champagne, Point of Honor, Saratoga County, Tizahit and Together Indy.
Hutter suffered injuries July 3, 2022, when a filly she was galloping on Saratoga’s Oklahoma Training Track collapsed and died from an apparent heart attack. Unconscious for several weeks, Hutter continues to bounce back through rehabilitation and therapy all while making her presence felt at the barn even from a distance.
“We’re very honored to win this award,” Weaver said. “Cindy was tough beforehand, and we ended up finding out how much tougher she was after everything happened. We’re doing everything we can and she continues to improve. She’s still got a strong work ethic.
“She might come out to the barn once a week, once every couple weeks. She came out the other day, spent the whole morning with us. And, of course, there was no shortage of comments to do this, and to do that.”
Hutter joins five prior Mooney winners – the award’s namesake who died after a long battle with cancer in 2017: horseman Kiaran McLaughlin, retired jockey Joy Scott, retired jockey and owner Rene Douglas and horsewoman Martine Bellocq. She will be honored along with the NTWAB’s other four award winners at the organization’s 63rd annual Awards Dinner at The Woolf Den by The Derby in Arcadia near Santa Anita Park, Wednesday, November 1.
Hutter was on hand this summer when her husband saddled Crimson Advocate to victory in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, one of 10 stakes wins for the stable this year.
Sean Clancy, a longtime Turf writer and former steeplechase jockey who has known Hutter for decades, wrote about the trying times for the couple the last two summers in The Saratoga Special.
“Last year, I was standing by the outside rail of the Oklahoma talking to George. It had been two weeks, maybe, since Cindy’s accident,” Clancy said. “He was always a horse trainer to me. That day, he was a husband. Scared of what lay ahead, scared for what Cindy’s life would look like. It was all so uncertain. The thought of Cindy trapped, dependent, unable to live the life she had built … man, it was devastating. The whole racetrack felt it.
“Then this year. What a difference a year makes. We finished a Stable Tour and I said to George, ‘Hey, if a year ago, someone said you would win a race at Royal Ascot, with Cindy there, you’d win nine at Saratoga and Cindy would be watching the horses and offering her insights, her valuable insights…’ George shook his head and smiled, ‘She’s come so far. I’m so proud of her. If someone told me a year ago that this is what it would be like, I’d have taken it. Sign me up, give me the contract.’
“Cindy wrote the contract. She worked her way from a farm in Pennsylvania, galloping jumpers in fields to the pinnacle of Thoroughbred racing, first on Wayne Lukas’ burners, then Todd Pletcher’s, then her husbands’ horses. We always knew she was a strong rider. In the last year, she showed she’s a strong woman, the strongest of the strong. Not that I’m surprised.”
Other honorees at the NTWAB Annual Awards Dinner will be Edwin Gregson Foundation (Joe Palmer Award), Team Cody’s Wish (Mr. Fitz Award), Kenny Rice (Jim McKay Award) and Mike Kane (Walter Haight Award), along with other writing award winners announced that evening.
The NTWAB Awards Dinner is traditionally held during Breeders’ Cup Week and is the organization’s only fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds from the event are used toward internships for prospective Thoroughbred racing journalists and to support Thoroughbred industry charities.