Nancy Kelly will retire from her full-time duties at The Jockey Club at the end of the year, concluding a more than three-decade run as a goodwill ambassador for the organization and a key fundraiser for two vital industry charitable groups.
Kelly, vice president of development of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and executive director of The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, will continue to assist with fund-raising efforts for those groups and with The Jockey Club’s Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing. She will be succeeded by Shannon Kelly (no relation), development manager for Grayson-Jockey Club and Safety Net Foundation since 2013.
This Is Horse Racing profiled Kelly in January 2014 in a piece titled “Dedication Personified” after she was presented with the Eddie Arcaro Award during the Jockeys’ Guild national assembly.
Kelly talked about Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez surprising her with the award at the dinner, which she almost didn’t attend.
“Johnny was great; everything they had written, I told him, ‘You’re making me sound like Mother Theresa,’ ” Kelly said. “But I’m really just doing my job and it happens to be something I love to do. I like helping people. I’m a giving person. Even though it’s not my money, you can never have a bad day working with the Safety Net Foundation. There’s always somebody worse off than the way I might be feeling on a particular day.”
The Eddie Arcaro Award is one of several honors for Kelly, who also received the Red Smith “Good Guy” Award from the New York Turf Writers Association and the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America’s Award of Excellence.
Kelly joined The Jockey Club in 1985 after eight years at the New York Racing Association. During her tenure with The Jockey Club she created and organized several fundraisers, including the Fashionable Fillies Luncheon and Charity Golf Tournament in Saratoga Springs and the Belmont Stakes Charity Celebration in the New York City area.
Here’s a look back at Kelly being honored with the Eddie Arcaro Award.