Several people are especially notable for their accomplishments in 2013. Two that should be on anyone’s list are Gary Stevens and D. Wayne Lukas. Mr. Stevens came out of retirement at the age of 50 to have a stellar year, riding the Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic winners among many others. Mr. Lukas trained the winners of the Preakness, the Travers, and came within an eyelash of winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Both these gentlemen are worthy of Person of the Year in American Horse Racing, and are superb representatives of horse racing to the general public.

Nonetheless, the view here is that Person of the Year is Kathy Ritvo. The diminutive 43-year-old Massachusetts native has been training racehorses since 1987. Ms. Ritvo was diagnosed in 2001 with an hereditary heart condition called cardiomyopathy that had previously ended the lives of her father and brother. She was treated with medication with limited results until 2008, when she underwent a life-saving heart transplant operation after waiting for seven months for an organ.

Ms. Ritvo took over her husband’s (Tim Ritvo) training stable in 2010 when he made a career change into racetrack management. In 2011, her most notable achievement was sending out Mucho Macho Man to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Then, in 2012, Mucho Macho Man culminated a successful 4-year-old season by finishing a very close second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Not one to quit, Ms. Ritvo guided Mucho Macho Man through his 5-year-old campaign and had the horse at his best toward the end of 2013 when he won the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes and the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, both at Santa Anita, to garner lifetime earnings of nearly $5.4 million.

The life story of Kathy Ritvo is one of perseverance and battling back against adversity that came close to terminating her life. That same determination enabled her to patiently train Mucho Macho Man through some low points to achieve the apex in American Thoroughbred racing. She deserves to be racing’s Person of the Year and is an inspiration in dealing with the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business