Butch Lehr will be honored with the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing, named for the late New York Herald Tribune turf writer. Lehr has been an industry leader in safety programs and initiatives during the 30 years he served as track superintendent at Churchill Downs.
Lehr was renowned for personally grading the track to ensure uniformity. Churchill Downs was regarded as one of the nation’s safest courses under his watch. He also oversaw the design and construction of the Matt Winn Turf Course, which opened in 1986 and is celebrated as one of the finest surfaces of its kind.
The Walter Haight Award, named for the former Washington Post turf writer and columnist, will be awarded to Bill Mooney for excellence in turf writing. Mooney is a two-time Eclipse Award winner, earning that prestigious honor in 1985 and 2007. He authored The Complete Encyclopedia of Horse Racing and co-authored Keeneland’s Ted Bassett: My Life. The latter was chosen for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award in 2010.
Mooney owns more than a dozen American Horse Publication awards and was cited twice with the David Woods Award for the best Preakness story, befitting his status as one of the finest writers of his era.
Photo: Kentucky Derby/Dan Dry/Power Creative