(US MI) Finding a mission in life August 03, 2005 6:13 AM
By Troy Ruel
CHRONICLE NEWS SERVICE
Jo Anne Normile was never among the track leaders in her short racing career as a thoroughbred owner.
But the Plymouth Township native remains a champion in the eyes of many horsemen at Great Lakes Downs.
Normile is the founder and executive director of CANTER -- The Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses. The non-profit organization was developed in 1997 to "rescue" horses once their racing careers were over.
CANTER has drawn the praise of Michigan's trainers and owners for several years for finding homes for injured and retired horses, and now, Normile is finally getting nationwide attention for her work.
The organization has chapters in six states and Normile was honored as the 2005 winner of the Dogwood Stables Dominion Award as the "unsung hero" in the horse racing industry.
As the 13th winner of the annual award, she will be presented with a bronze statue of the former champion stallion, a $5,000 check and have a race named in her honor Wednesday at Saratoga Race Track in New York.
Her husband John, daughters Jessica and Rebecca, several friends and members of the CANTER Board of Directors also will participate in a luncheon, which is part of Saratoga's opening-week festivities.
"Jo Anne saw a real need in Michigan to save bottom-level claiming horses from slaughter and she came up with a way of giving trainers a viable option," Dogwood Stable President W. Cotheran "Cot" Campbell stated in a recent release. "She had the trust of the local horsemen and she also had an incredible network of horsemen in other disciplines who were looking for new horses."
Normile was one of 47 nominations for the award, which is voted upon by Dogwood Stables representative Anne Campbell, former Secretariat owner Penny Chenery and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey.
It's the second consecutive year that the award was given to a horse-rescue operation, as last year's winner, Pam Berg, is known for her work with an equine retirement facility in Northern California.
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