Colonial Downs’ Jill Byrne To Host Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards on Breeders’ Cup Week

(NEW KENT, VA — 11/1/2020) —- Colonial Downs’ VP of Racing Operations Jill Byrne will host the prestigious Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA), held virtually this year, on Thursday November 5 at 12 Noon.

Now in its fifth year in the U.S., the ceremony recognizes and rewards outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff who are at the heart of the sport. Seven different categories are dedicated to acknowledging workers behind the scenes that tend to the horses and others in that aspect of the business.

Jill Byrne with Victor Espinoza, farm manager of Brookdale Farm, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas

Award categories include leadership in breeding and racing, dedication to breeding and racing, and ones that reward service in administration and community along with a newcomer award.  
The program is presented by Godolphin USA, a name shared by Shiekh Mohammed’s worldwide racing and breeding operation.

Godolphin won the 2019 Virginia Oaks in New Kent with their horse Carnival Colors, and has been supportive of racing initiatives at Colonial Downs. This past summer, Godolphin’s Embossed competed in a $48,000 allowance optional claimer at Colonial and finished third. Last year, their Desert Spring was sixth in a similar allowance. Michael Stidham trains all three for Godolphin.

Carnival Colors captured the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs. Photo by Coady Photography.

“This is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the industry as it recognizes those workers behind the scenes that take care of the horses, and those who take care of the people who take care of the horses,” said Byrne. “Sheikh Mohammed of Godolphin is extremely generous in his support of behind the scenes people internationally and in the U.S.”

Four sponsoring organizations include the Breeders’ Cup, Jockey Club, National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (HBPA) and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

The awards show is based in Lexington, Kentucky and will be held the day before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships begin at Keeneland. Industry members can check out bios and videos from the finalists in each category, and watch the ceremony live, at