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Bluegrass Sports Awards: A nod to horse racing and history

Awarding the 2015 Sportsman of the Year

American Pharaoh was awarded the 2015 Lexington Herald-Leader Sportsman of the Year award at the 2015 Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet on Jan. 26, 2016.
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American Pharaoh was awarded the 2015 Lexington Herald-Leader Sportsman of the Year award at the 2015 Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet on Jan. 26, 2016.

Horses and history were the dominant themes of the night at the fifth Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet in Lexington.

Award winners from a variety of fields were honored in the Lexington Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom on Tuesday during the annual event presented by Alltech.

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was named the Herald-Leader’s 2015 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year at the conclusion of the evening. The Ahmed Zayat-owned and Bob Baffert-trained colt became the first horse to win the award in its 35-year history.

Additionally, the sponsoring Bluegrass Sports Commission presented several awards highlighting the achievements of sports figures who have made a difference in the lives of Kentuckians.

Two awards were presented that were named for Lexington native and NBC broadcaster Tom Hammond.

The Tom Hammond Sports Media Award for national accomplishments went to Larry Conley, a former Rupp Runt and a longtime college basketball broadcaster.

The Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award was presented to a trio of recipients, all in the world of horse racing broadcasting: Mike Battaglia, Donna Brothers and Kenny Rice.

Two additional awards were presented in the name of National College Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Host, the founder of Host Communications of Lexington.

The Jim Host Sports Business Award went to Bill Farish of Lane’s End Farm, who serves as chairman of the Breeders’ Cup. The Breeders’ Cup completed a successful debut at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington last October.

Former Lexington Herald-Leader sportswriter Mike Fields was honored with the Jim Host Youth Sports Award. Fields retired last spring after 35 years at the newspaper covering high school sports.

The 2016 recipient of the Bobby Flynn Volunteer of the Year Award was the late Van Florence who served as president of the University of Kentucky’s 101 Club for more than 30 years. Florence died last week at age 69.

Proceeds from Tuesday night’s banquet benefit the Bluegrass Sports Commission and its efforts to grow sports tourism in Central Kentucky.

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