June 22, 2005 — Pfizer Animal Health and American Horse Publications (AHP), paid tribute to John Ryan Gaines, honoring him as this year’s Equine Industry Vision Award recipient at the AHP Horse By Northwest Seminar in Seattle, Washington, on June 10. Established in 2002 to distinguish those who are transforming the industry, the Equine Industry Vision Award is the first of its kind to showcase innovation across the entire equine world, as well as to acknowledge ingenuity and service.
“John Gaines personifies the visionary spirit which the Equine Industry Vision Award serves to recognize,” said Dan Kramer, Senior Marketing Manager, Equine Business at Pfizer Animal Health. “His countless contributions to the horse world continue to reach across disciplines and throughout the country, and his service to our industry will be long remembered.”
A bittersweet occasion, the event became all the more poignant as homage was bestowed on this legendary giant who passed away on February 11 of this year. Alex Hassinger, nephew and horseman in his own right, having twice won the Breeders’ Cup for which his uncle was renowned, stepped forward to receive the award on behalf of the family.
“John Gaines was a true visionary and a great leader. His influence touched virtually every aspect of the industry,” Hassinger said. “The Equine Industry Vision Award represents a fitting tribute to the commitment and dedication for which John Gaines stood.”
With contributions that spanned over 40 years, Gaines will be remembered for changing the face of Thoroughbred racing. From establishing the celebrated Breeders’ Cup, to playing a pivotal role in the formation of the National Thoroughbred Association, the predecessor of today’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), he worked to broaden the scope of the game.
Gaines’ inspiration for what would become the Kentucky Horse Park and the National Horse Center is yet another example of the profound impact he has had on the industry.
“Today, due to his efforts, the Kentucky Horse Park has evolved into the nation’s leading equine entertainment, event and learning facility. It also serves as the home to 19 leading equestrian associations at the park’s National Horse Center, which itself is symbolic of the unity of leadership and common purpose that Mr. Gaines has for so long advocated for our industry,” said Kentucky Horse Park Executive Director John Nicholson.
In addition, as the owner of the prestigious Gainesway Farm, Gaines revolutionized several key breeding and management programs, culminating in his crowning achievement, the realization of the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky.
Gaines’ wife, Joan, put it best when recounting her husband’s accomplishments. Posing the question, “What makes greatness?” she answered by saying, “Having engendered respect and support from his peers has been John Gaines’ genius and the foundation for his many successes. What makes greatness? I believe it is reflected in his legacy that will surely resonate throughout the equine world for generations to come.”
The finalists in this year’s competition will automatically be entered in next year’s Equine Industry Vision Award contest. They are as follows: Stanley F. Bergstein, Douglas Herthel, DVM, Matthew Mackay-Smith, DVM (medical editor of EQUUS magazine), David O’Connor and Pat Parelli. Nomination information is available at the AHP website.
Learn more about John Gaines in the 2005 edition of Discover Horses at the Kentucky Horse Park. Call 301-977-3900 to order a copy of the magazine.