BloodHorse Magazine

Award presented in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement.

The honorable Earle I. Mack, who has burnished a remarkable career serving his country and the Thoroughbred industry through racing, breeding, and philanthropic causes, has been selected to receive the Eclipse Award of Merit in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced the honor Jan. 26. Mack, 83, will receive the Award of Merit Feb. 10 at the 51st annual Eclipse Awards ceremony honoring racing’s champions of 2021 at Santa Anita Park near Arcadia, Calif. Winners in 17 horse and human categories will be announced at Santa Anita and live on TVG, and other outlets, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The evening will culminate with the announcement of the 2021 Horse of the Year.

Ambassador Mack, from Florida, has enjoyed a career of varied accomplishments in business, government, the military, the arts, and Thoroughbred racing. He served as the United States Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Finland in 2004 and 2005 under President George W. Bush.

Ambassador Mack served in the U.S. Army Infantry as a Second Lieutenant while on active duty, and as a First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Infantry and Military Police.

Ambassador Mack has been breeding and racing Thoroughbreds since 1963, and has bred or raced 25 stakes winners, including 1993 Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski, 2002 Brazilian Triple Crown winner Roxinho, November Snow, and Mr. Light. He has also served the industry through his participation on numerous endeavors. He was a member of the board of trustees for the New York Racing Association (1990-2004), chairman of the New York State Racing Commission (1983-89), member of the New York State Thoroughbred Racing Capital Investment Fund (1987-96) and a member, board of directors, of the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Corp. (1983-89). He served as senior adviser on racing and breeding in New York State for the Thoroughbred industry to governors Mario M. Cuomo and George E. Pataki. The Earle I. Mack Thoroughbred Champion Award has been presented annually since 2011 to an individual for outstanding efforts and influence on Thoroughbred racehorse welfare, safety, and retirement.

“This is a distinct honor,” said Mack. “Since college I have devoted my life to the equine industry. I love the horse. I love our veterans who have fought hard for the survival of our freedoms and the democracy we embrace as Americans. I am grateful for and would like to give special thanks to the NTRA and the Eclipse selection committee for this special recognition.

“I am also immensely grateful to those in the industry who have supported my vision for the Man O’ War Project, most especially The Jockey Club.

“The health, safety, and welfare of our horses and the integrity of our sport have been at the center of my advocacy over the years. I’m very heartened by the new (Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act) legislation which will most certainly inure to the greater good of our industry.”

Ambassador Mack has been a longtime supporter of numerous equine charities, including the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, and has inspired others to do good works through his establishment of the Ogden “Dinny” Phipps Award, given annually to someone who has performed meritorious service to racing.

Mack’s most recent cause, as founder of the Man O’ War Project, has allowed him to combine his interest and passion for military veterans and retired racehorses. The focus of the project is to search and discover effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder in wartime veterans. The Man O’ War Project team is comprised of researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute (Columbia University Irving Medical Center) with expertise in PTSD, assessment, development, and testing of psychotherapeutic treatments, namely Equine-Assisted Therapy, which is a widely used alternative treatment for many people struggling with mental health and life problems, including veterans.

U.S. Marine Corp. veteran Sgt. Matt Ryba visiting with ex-racehorse Crafty at the Bergen Equestrian Center, which is offering equine therapy for veterans with PTSD.
Photo: Courtesy Man O’ War Project

A Man O’ War Project session in progress at the Bergen Equestrian Center


The initial goal of the Man O’ War Project was to examine the effectiveness of EAT for military veterans and military personnel with PTSD. Ambassador Mack approached his friend, David Shaffer, MD, and soon a team was formed at Columbia led by Dr. Prudence Fisher and Dr. Yuval Neria. The project was the first-ever university-led research study to examine the effectiveness of equine-assisted therapy in treating veterans with PTSD. The promising clinical and MRI results have been published in three highly regarded medical journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Building on the success of the study, the Man O’ War Center at Columbia University is under development with the mission to train others in the EAT field in the Man O’ War protocol, expand access to the therapy for veterans, and adapt the protocol for children and adolescents.

“Ambassador Mack’s contributions to the Thoroughbred industry go well beyond his successful breeding and racing operations,” said James Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “His support of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, creation of the Dinny Phipps Award, and contributions to the Man O’ War Project exemplify what the Eclipse Award of Merit represents, and he is well-deserving of it. We are honored to have him as a member of The Jockey Club.”

Among his many other endeavors, Ambassador Mack served on the board of directors of the New York City Ballet. He is also a former co-chairman of the board of the Dance Theater of Harlem and a former member of the New York Governor’s Committee on Scholastic Achievement. He was chairman and CEO of the New York State Council of the Arts in New York from 1996-99, being named chairman emeritus upon his retirement.

Ambassador Mack and his wife Carol have two children, Andrew and Schuyler.