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Choosing a horse as Sportsman of the Year: What the voters said

American Pharoah, being held by stallion manager Richard Barry, received the Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sportsman of the Year award from Herald-Leader Publisher and President Rufus Friday, left, and columnist Mark Story, right, outside the stallion barn at Ashford Stud/Coolmore Farm near Versailles, Ky., Friday, January 22, 2016. American Pharoah, a Thoroughbred racehorse who won the American Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2015, now stands stud at the farm.
American Pharoah, being held by stallion manager Richard Barry, received the Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sportsman of the Year award from Herald-Leader Publisher and President Rufus Friday, left, and columnist Mark Story, right, outside the stallion barn at Ashford Stud/Coolmore Farm near Versailles, Ky., Friday, January 22, 2016. American Pharoah, a Thoroughbred racehorse who won the American Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2015, now stands stud at the farm. cbertram@herald-leader.com

What the voters said on the issue of voting for a horse, Triple Crown and Breeders Cup Classic champion American Pharoah, as the 2015 Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sportsman of the Year:

“Horses can engender such deep affection in such a short amount of time that it doesn’t really matter to me whether a horse is a ‘sportsman.’ This horse did what many thought would never be done again. And he will always be loved for it.”

— Jared Peck, Lexington Herald-Leader

“(American Pharoah) drew tens of thousands of fans to racetracks in the early morning hours just to see him gallop, and his endearing disposition with his handlers and fans made the colt an ideal ambassador for his sport.”

— Christy Cassady, formerly Lexington Herald-Leader

“If this great horse was a person, he would be the greatest athlete in the history of the commonwealth.”

— Jim Host, Host Communications

“No, he’s not a person, so I choose to think of American Pharoah as the ‘Sports Figure of the Year,’ an athlete who galvanized the sport and the nation. How many other athletes can claim that, at his/her finest moment in 2015, America stopped what it was doing to watch - and, in some corners, wept?”

— Dick Garbiel, WLAP 630-AM, WKYT-TV, Lexington

“Too bad American Pharoah can’t appreciate what a cool honor it is to be named Kentucky Sportsman of the Year. But wait a minute: He’s a ‘super horse.’ Maybe he can.”

— Garry Gupton, formerly of WHAS-TV, Louisville

“Anyone who doesn’t vote for American Pharoah is being silly and just trying to get attention.”

— Lachlan McLean, WLKY.com, Louisville

“Surely Kentucky voters, unlike Sports Illustrated editors, know that American Pharoah was not just a horse ... of course. Not only extremely gifted athletically, his temperament and overall demeanor captivated all sports fans, not just those in the horse racing community.”

— Doug Orman, Louisville Cardinals radio network

“After ending horse racing’s 37-year Triple Crown drought and grabbing the sport’s Grand Slam, no animal or human deserves (Sportsman of the Year) more.”

— Connie Leonard, WAVE-TV, Louisville

“Kentucky Sportsman of the Year, once in a lifetime horse.”

— Tony Bak, The Ledger Independent, Maysville

“I’m almost always going to vote for humans over horses on this ballot, but I have to make an exception for this exceptional horse that captured that attention of Kentucky and the nation and made racing matter again. This shouldn’t be a close race.”

— Mike Marsee, formerly of Danville Advocate Messenger

“Unlike any other athlete over the last 37 years, American Pharoah captured the hearts and imaginations of the American people, not just those involved in the horse industry. Time stopped when American Pharoah ran his Triple Crown races as millions of people gathered to watch him make history.”

— Jim Swinford, WCYN AM-1400, FM-102.3, Cynthiana

“American Pharoah brought an industry back to life.”

— Mickey Patterson, Shelbyville Sentinel-News

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