ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Colleen Rutledge of Frederick, Md., who is chasing her Olympic dream of competing in the three-day equestrian event, recently received the Maryland Horse Industry Board's second Touch Of Class Award along with her horse, Shiraz.
The award was presented during ceremonies at the Jim McKay Maryland Million horse race at Laurel Park in Laurel, Md.
"We are pleased to present this award at the Jim McKay Maryland Million, which is a program of races that feature offspring of Maryland-based stallions. The equine industry is an integral part of Maryland's cultural and economic heritage," said Mary Ellen Setting, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. "We commend Colleen Rutledge for her extraordinary achievements and for her dedication to Maryland's horse industry."
The award, named in honor of Maryland-bred Olympic gold-medal winning horse Touch of Class, is presented monthly by the Maryland Horse Industry Board to showcase outstanding horses and people who represent the highest standards of excellence in Maryland's equine community.
The inaugural award was presented last month to Graham Motion, a Maryland-based thoroughbred trainer who trained Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
Rutledge and Shiraz recently were the third highest-placed U.S. horse-and-rider combination at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in England, and are under consideration for a berth on the 2012 U.S. Olympic three-day team.
Rutledge paraded Shiraz, a former racehorse, on the Laurel Park track before 20,000 fans following completion of the Apple Ford Maryland Million Distaff Race. She then proceeded to the winner's circle, where she was presented the award by Setting; Gary Maynard, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services; Jim Steele, chairman of the Maryland Horse Industry Board; and Ashley Valis, who was representing Gov. Martin O'Malley.
"Colleen and Shiraz are among the best of the thousands of Maryland horses and riders who participate in equestrian sports in our state, and who have taken advantage of the amazing opportunities and facilities that we have here to train and prepare to excel at the highest level of international competition," Steele said.
Rutledge, a mother of three, operates the 60-acre Turnabout Farm in Mount Airy, Md. She has been riding and competing for more than 30 years in Maryland, and is a graduate "A" Pony Clubber of the Frederick Pony Club.
She has worked her way up through the eventing ranks to win at local competitions, and participates regularly in international events.
Shiraz, 13, made 14 starts as a racehorse, but found his real niche as an elite equine athlete as a stellar show and event jumper. He finished with a clear round over some of the most difficult obstacles in the world on the cross-country course at Burghley.