William S. Farish, owner of Lane's End Farm, will receive an Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.
"I am so honored to have been selected for a sport which has given me and my family so much pleasure and enjoyment for the past 35 years," Farish said in a statement. "I am humbled to be chosen to join this list of outstanding people who have received this Award of Merit, many of whom have been longtime friends."
Farish said Tuesday that he was thrilled by the unexpected honor.
"It's really the biggest award because it's the achievement of a lifetime in the sport. To me, that means a great deal. It ties it all together," he said.
As for the future, he said he hopes to "keep right on breeding good horses, coming up with new top stallions. Maybe somewhere along the line having a Derby winner."
Farish, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain from 2001-2004, has long been influential in myriad ways in the horse industry.
He is a steward and vice chairman of The Jockey Club, a director of the Breeders' Cup, a trustee of the Keeneland Association, and former chairman of the board of Churchill Downs.
In June, according to the National Thoroughbred Raciing Association release announcing the award, the Williams Stamps Farish Fund donated $1 million to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Farish is working with the group's board to raise up to $12 million for an endowment to provide support for disabled riders.
"If you follow the life cycle of the Thoroughbred each stage from mating, breeding, raising, registration, sales, training, racing, and then back to the farm for breeding, Will has positively impacted each step along the way," said Nick Nicholson, Keeneland president. "His knowledge, passion and willingness to give of his time for the betterment of the industry and the sport have meant so much for the modern Thoroughbred world."
Farish has twice received the Eclipse Award as leading breeder. With various partners, he has raced more than 150 stakes winners.
He bought his first Thoroughbred in 1963; nine years later, he raced Preakness winner Bee Bee Bee. In 1979, he founded Lane's End Farm, near Lexington. In 1985, a yearling he bred with the late Warner L. Jones Jr. sold for world-record $13.1 million.
Today, Lane's End stands 22 stallions, including A.P. Indy, Mineshaft, Smart Strike, Curlin and English Channel.
Farish will receive the award at a ceremony Jan. 18 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
■ WLKY-TV in Louisville has won an Eclipse for local television for its feature on Tom McCarthy, trainer of Kentucky Derby contender General Quarters. The co-producers were John Boel and Scott Eckhardt.