LEXINGTON, Ky. – John Shear, who retired from his post as Santa Anita Park’s paddock guard this year at age 100, will be honored along with retired Del Mar publicist Dan Smith, Turf writer Lenny Shulman and radio personality Steve Byk during the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters’ 61st annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
The NTWAB Awards Dinner is the organization’s only fundraiser and a portion of the proceeds of the event are used toward scholarships for prospective racing journalists and to support other Thoroughbred industry charities. The NTWAB Awards Dinner returns to its traditional date on the Breeders’ Cup Week calendar after a one-year hiatus and will be held at the iconic Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar in Del Mar, California.
Shear will be honored with the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing. During his time with Santa Anita Shear was entrusted with keeping horses and patrons safe, and famously risked his life in that endeavor 10 years ago at age 90 to put his 5-foot, 115-pound body between a loose horse and a child – resulting in multiple fractures. His value to racing was so much more, as one of the most recognizable employees who interfaced with fans on a daily basis, his warm smile and familiarity with regulars making him incredibly popular. He worked in that capacity for nearly 60 years, retiring this past summer.
Smith, who served more than 40 years as full-time director of media relations at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, will be honored with the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing. Smith was at the forefront of Del Mar’s innovations that not only attracted new fans, but also enhanced the experience of traditional customers, while always putting the racing product front and center. Prior to his career in media relations, Smith covered racing and other sports for the Los Angeles Times. Prior to his retirement in 2021, the Dan Smith Press Box was christened at Del Mar.
Shulman, the features editor at BloodHorse magazine for 20 years and the author of four books including “Justify: 111 Days to Triple Crown Glory,” will be honored with the Walter Haight Award for career excellence in Turf writing. Shulman also wrote “Ride of Their Lives,” a look at the troubled lives of some jockeys, and two novels, “Long Way From Home” and “Points.” Shulman began his career as a sports reporter at the Oneida (New York) Daily Dispatch after graduating from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications.
Byk, the host of the popular “At the Races with Steve Byk” show on SiriusXM, will be honored with the Jim McKay Award for career excellence in broadcasting. Byk’s five-day-a-week news magazine has become a must-listen for many industry participants and fans. Byk began writing about racing in 2002, eventually developing DerbyTrail.com. He joined ‘At the Races and Beyond’ on Sirius in 2005 and took over the show in 2007.
Tickets for the NTWAB Awards Dinner, which can be purchased through EventBrite, are $80 for NTWAB members and Breeders’ Cup credentialed media and $100 for non-members and guests. Invitations will be mailed to NTWAB members, and non-members can request an invitation by contacting Jessie Oswald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Turf Writers And Broadcasters, formerly known as the National Turf Writers Association, is more than 60 years old and promotes and encourages closer relationships and camaraderie among its members. It also seeks to improve working conditions, foster better understanding between its membership and the governing powers of Thoroughbred racing, and develop a deeper understanding of Thoroughbred racing and breeding. The NTWAB is 501c, not-for-profit organization. www.ntwab.org
National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association
Photo: Dan Smith courtesy of DMTC