By Gene McLean
G.D. Hieronymus — whose name has become synonymous with current, contemporary and classic Thoroughbred racing video creation, production and distribution — has been named as one of three new members to the Board of Trustees to the National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame.
Currently, Hieronymus is the director of broadcast services for Keeneland, a position he has held since July of 2000. His roles include producing and directing live coverage of racing and sales for Keeneland and for local, regional and national TV networks.
In addition, Hieronymus designed the first high-definition control room for a Thoroughbred racetrack in North America and has directed award-winning commercials for multiple advertising agencies and horse farms.
In 2004, he was awarded an Eclipse Award, for television achievement. In 2014, his broadcast department at Keeneland was recognized with its seventh International Simulcast Award for outstanding racing live production from the Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Prior to joining Keeneland, Hieronymus, who studied telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, worked for Hammond Communications Group as vice president of production. He was with Hammond at its inception in 1984 and instrumental in its growth and success, serving 19 years in video and film production with the company.
As a multiple award-winning producer, director and editor, Hieronymus was selected as director of photography for the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Museum film “The Greatest Race,” which plays today at that historic track.
He is actively involved with the American Diabetes Association, serves on the Transylvania University Parent Council, LexArts Board, SummerFest Board and is an ex-officio member to the Kentucky Film Commission.
As modest as he is talented, I got this response, via text, when I congratulated G.D. on the announcement last week:
“Thanks Gene – miss seeing you my brother!”
I got the chance to meet G.D. when he first worked at the Lexington NBC affiliate, WLEX-TV (Channel 18), as a reporter and cameraman. He was the first person on the job at a number of sporting events in and around Central Kentucky. And, he was the first person to recognize that his counterpart at WLEX, Tom Hammond, had both the broadcast voice and Thoroughbred acumen to become one of the industry’s greatest announcers.
At the same time, I was a young reporter and columnist for The Lexington Herald-Leader. And, as fate would have it, I was selected to cover a number of similar events and sporting events that G.D. was assigned to and covered.
As a result, we saw each other a lot. And, it didn’t take long to figure out that we liked many of the same things. We would hang out at old (now gone) Riverfront Stadium before and after Cincinnati Reds games. We would see each other during race meets at Keeneland. We were both there when Gov. Martha Layne Collins welcomed the great John Henry to Lexington, and his new home at the Kentucky Horse Park.
After G.D. moved over to Hammond Productions and I had moved along to start Kentucky Off-Track Betting, Inc., we collaborated on a project to create a weekly television show dedicated to promoting the Thoroughbred racing industry named “Raceline Kentucky.”
Dave Baker, who has gone on to be a major host and contributor to the SEC Network and still anchors many of the sports programming at WKYT-TV (CBS affiliate) in Lexington and also helps with our project now, and Tom Leach, who is now the voice of the Kentucky Wildcats, were our co-hosts.
But the genius behind the production was G.D., who carved out a very good show that included highlights of past stakes races and promotions of future racing stars each week.
G.D. and I have been friends ever since, and we have travelled together to see the Breeders’ Cup and other major Thoroughbred events all over the country. We have played softball together, and he has stayed with me at my house on Kentucky Lake. And, every spring, just before the Derby, we take a day to visit Check’s Restaurant in old Louisville — with brother John and lifelong friend Cecil Watts — for a fried bologna sandwich and a frosty mug of malt beverage
I tell everyone that I know that G.D. is the most talented person I have ever met in my life. You put a camera in his hand and the world comes alive for all of us. He captures the beauty. He edits out the warts. And, we are left with a masterpiece of art that we all hope life to become at the finish line of every race.
But he is also very talented when it comes to handicapping Thoroughbred horses. The day after the 1999 Breeders Cup, which was held at Gulfstream Park, I looked up and saw GD coming into the airport to catch a private plane, chartered by Taylor Made Farm, so that we could return to Lexington for the beginning of the November Breeding Stock Sale at Keeneland.
I laughingly commented on his looks (as if he had stayed up much of the night on Orange Beach), and GD grabbed my arm and led me down the hallway. He showed me the only winning Pick 6 Ticket from the Breeders Cup, held the previous day.
G.D.’s brother, John “Moose” Hieronymus had convinced G.D. to include Cat Thief in his picks for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. G.D. had heeded the advice. And, he was holding the lone Pick 6 ticket.
As is G.D.’s style, he included his brother in the payoff after cashing his handsome ticket
There could not be a more deserving and credible Trustee for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame than G.D. Hieronymus. G.D. Hieronymus is a Hall of Fame person.
Joining Hieronymus as new Trustees will be Jimmy Bell and Christopher Boehning.
Bell is the president of Godolphin America, a position he has held since 2001. During his tenure, he has overseen the careers of Sheikh Mohammed’s many American-based Grade 1 winners, including Bernardini, It’s Tricky, Cocoa Beach, Music Note, Alpha, Questing and Better Lucky, among others.
Prior to his position with Godolphin America, Bell was the president and general manager of Jonabell Farm and a director of Cromwell Bloodstock Agency and Cromwell Insurance Agency.
Boehning, who was previously on the Museum’s advisory board, is a Partner in the litigation department at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. His practice includes commercial and civil litigation matters, insurance counseling and litigation, criminal and regulatory inquiries, internal investigations and international arbitrations.