An audience of about 500 was on hand for Wednesday's inaugural Bluegrass Sports Awards, presented by Alltech, at the Griffin Gate Marriott.
Among the honorees was Lexington's own Tom Hammond, presented with the Lifetime Achievement award.
"You always appreciate awards, no question," said Hammond, a graduate of Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky. "But when it comes from the home folks ... it does have an extra special meaning."
Hammond has been one of NBC Sports' top broadcasters for more than 30 years.
"Looking around at all the people here, so many have helped me in my career over the years," Hammond said. "So many have been friends. And it makes for a very special night."
The award will be known as the Tom Hammond Lifetime Achievement Award hereafter.
"I told the committee, 'Now you know you risk somebody saying who?'" Hammond said with a laugh. "... It's a great honor. What can you say? I'm overwhelmed by it."
In a surprise presentation, a lifetime Business Achievement Award was given to Jim Host, the founder of Host Communications and a longtime Kentucky sports supporter. Host most recently served as chairman of a task force that orchestrated the opening of the KFC Yum Center in Louisville.
As previously announced, Jerry Carroll and former governor Martha Layne Collins were winners of the first Jim Host Awards, presented by KEMI.
"The reason I feel just genuinely excited and honored is because it's the Jim Host Award," Carroll said. "And it's the first Jim Host Award ever given out. I've known Jim Host as an entrepreneur, a dream-maker and as somebody I've always admired. So to get this award with his name on it is a fulfillment of a dream for me. It's very exciting."
Carroll, best known as the former owner of Turfway Park who led the charge to build an auto racing track in Northern Kentucky in hopes of attracting top-level NASCAR racing, took the Jim Host Sports Business Award. The annual honor goes to a Kentuckian who has achieved a high level of success in the sports industry and has a positive impact on Kentucky.
Carroll sold his interest in the Kentucky Speedway, but his dream was realized last year when NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series came to Sparta for the Quaker State 400.
Collins received the Jim Host Youth Sports Award, presented annually to a Kentuckian who has achieved great success in coaching, administrating or otherwise associating with youth and/or high school sports, who has had a positive impact on their community and Kentucky.
Inspired by the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, along with the emerging state games concept across the nation, Collins created the Bluegrass State Games in 1985. A non-profit program, sponsored privately to promote amateur athletics access in Kentucky, the Games have attracted more than 300,000 young people in Kentucky.
"I'm honored because I'm in the first class — and a female," Collins said. "That's really great. But I have to thank all the people who made the Bluegrass State Games possible. I got it started, but then I left office and it's carried on and grown."
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com