The Inaugural El Mejor Awards for backstretch workers

September 22, 2021

Past the Wire plans to host and help launch the inaugural El Mejor Awards for backstretch workers

We all know how vital the backstretch workers are for the horses and for the sport. They work as hard as anyone in the game and also under dangerous conditions at times. While we all realize this as an industry we fall short in recognizing it at least publicly, often enough and in the media. Hopefully the El Mejor Awards can help change that.

Frankly I have never understood why the Eclipse Awards never expanded their categories to include backstretch workers. I tried to voice that many times over the years to anyone who’d Listen. Nobody did. That is part of the reason when approached by Michael Northcutt about hosting and helping quarterback his brainchild, the El Mejor Awards I was immediately interested. Barn foremen, grooms, and hot walkers and even the track kitchens help and are essential in keeping our sport going. We have awards for everyone and everything except these hard working contributors to the game we love.

We feel this is long overdue in US racing and we hope the industry embraces it and more importantly supports it.

Following is a link to the original release announcing the awards and judges.

Read El Mejor Awards Press Release Here

Simplicity can be the essence of intelligence so we decided to keep things as simple as possible. We encourage all trainers with employees they feel are deserving to nominate them by putting their name and a brief explanation on why they deserve the award in their respective category into the comments section of this article. They will all be read by the Judges who will each pick up to three finalists. They will then utilize a point system to select the winner. We have added the category of Outstanding Excercise Rider for a total of five categories. Once again they are as follows:

Outstanding Barn Foreman

Outstanding Groom

Outstanding Hot Walker

Outstanding Excercise Rider

Outstanding Track Kitchen and Staff

We hope to have a sponsor for each category willing to pay each winner $500 directly. It will be the winners responsibility to provide the award sponsor any required information for payment of the award. Anyone interested in sponsoring an award please get in contact with us as soon as possible.

The winners will be announced Thanksgiving week.

We encourage everyone in the industry to share this article and nominate someone deserving or suggest it to someone who may know of a good candidate. Let’s all work together and make something good happen for all these workers who truly deserve it.

Anyone who knows a good candidate and follows the simple instructions can nominate someone or a track kitchen!

Simply put the persons name and where and who they work for in the comments section below along with why you think they deserve to win. Our Judges will do the rest. Do the same for any track kitchen.


Karl Broberg

Mark Hennig

Ashley Mailloux

Jose Santos Jr.

Ellis Starr

Let’s try and get a lot of nominations, a lot of sponsors and participation and a lot of well deserved and earned traction for our backstretch workers! Together we can do it!

Photo: Past the Wire, Courtney Snow

Hey Jon Great writing my man, I'm flattered.

Gary Stevens View testimonials