Kevin Flanery Honored As Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners’ Warner Jones Award Winner

Kevin Flanery is the 2021 recipient of the Louisville-based Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners’ Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award. Flanery will be honored at the KTO’s 33rd annual awards gala Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Kentucky Derby Museum, 704 Central Avenue adjacent to Churchill Downs. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. ET, with dinner at 7. Tickets are available for $125, including dinner and drinks, by contacting Marlene Meyer at 502-458-5820.

The award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to Kentucky racing and sharing the passion exemplified by Jones, who spent 50 years on the Churchill Downs board, including eight as chairman during the iconic track’s resurgence. Warner Jones — the first, and so far only breeder of a Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup winner — was the inaugural award winner in 1988, six years before his death.

“I am so grateful for this acknowledgement, and I’m especially honored to be recognized by horsemen. Having grown up in the area surrounding Churchill Downs Racetrack, I have a deep appreciation for all the men and women who invest their whole lives into racing. I have always strived to put them first as they are the essence of what is best about this industry,” said Flanery. “I’m genuinely a fan of racing and I love horses. I will be forever thankful for being a part of the history of Churchill Downs. Witnessing the joy of winner’s circle triumphs at all levels of the game will always be cherished.”

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners is an educational and social organization dedicated to the betterment of racing in the state. Membership is open not only to owners, but anyone interested in the sport, including prospective owners.

“Kevin may have left the helm at Churchill Downs, but he will always be a part of the racing family,” said Loren Hebel-Osborne, KTO President. “We are grateful for Kevin’s leadership for so many years, and Kevin always provided a welcoming bridge between the frontside and backside. As changes were made on a macro level at the track, Kevin made sure that what was good for horses was always the first consideration.”

Because of the COVID-19 health crisis, the KTO was forced to cancel its traditional November awards gala last year. Steve Asmussen, the 2020 recipient, will also be presented his award at this year’s event.

“We want to celebrate, elevate and honor the accomplishments of both men – we’ve got a particularly solid 1 and 1A entry to recognize this year,” added Hebel-Osborne.

Flanery’s 15-year tenure at CDI began in December 2005 as vice president of national public affairs. He was named senior vice president of national public affairs and communications in March 2008 before being named the 13th President of Churchill Downs Racetrack and a Senior Vice President of CDI in July 2009. As President of Churchill Downs Racetrack, Flanery led several significant capital investments that greatly improved the live racing experience including permanent track lighting and the Big Board. He also spearheaded major expansion projects including the Paddock Plaza, The Mansion, the Starting Gate Suites and Rooftop Lounge, the Colonnade, the new Infield Gate and, most recently in 2020, the completion of the equine medical center and Matt Winn’s Steakhouse.

Flanery came to Churchill Downs following several key positions in government and private business, including secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and president of Hagan Properties.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen recently broke the North American record for wins by a trainer, passing Dale Baird’s record of 9,445. Asmussen stands at 9,499 wins over his thirty-five-year career.

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