Chris Baker

Virginia horsemen Chris Baker and Larry Johnson will be honored with special awards at the the inaugural Commonwealth Turf Festival on July 30, 2011 at Colonial Downs. 

Baker, the farm manager at Edward P. Evans Spring Hill Farm for the past 10 years, will be given the Virginia Thoroughbred Association’s Award of Merit to acknowledge his many contributions to the success of Evans’ extensive racing and breeding operation.  Johnson will be awarded the VTA’s  Achievement Award for a significant series of accomplishments since entering the game which led to his breeding the 2010 Grade 1 stakes winner Victor’s Cry.

“As successful as Ned Evans was during his entire involvement in the industry, he was most successful with Chris at the helm of Spring Hill,” said Glenn Petty VTA Executive Director.  “Their ability to choose the right horses to make their blend of commercial and racing endeavors a success both financially and on the racetrack speak volumes about the value of their collaborative effort.”

“Typically, a guy like Chris might go unnoticed in a big operation like this,” said Petty. “But if you ever visited the farm his scope of knowledge and command of what was transpiring was very noticeable and his knowledge about everything from what’s happening at the racetrack to what’s happening under the grass in his paddocks is impressive.”

Johnson, a C.P.A., entered the game in 1976 with $1,600 that got him half of a $3,200 claimer named Doctor Po.  Johnson, whose grandfather was a trainer, immediately found the winner’s circle and had his one horse stable claimed away.

From there Johnson kept claiming and buying young horses until he found himself in the breeding business.  Not long after he was producing stakes winners incuding Wat It is, Turn To T.J. , T.J.’s Turn, Star Trace, Special Kell, Street Magician and Victor’s Cry from a small band of broodmares.  In addition, Johnson has also purchased a collection of stakes winners including Baltimore Belle, Tow Smart, Congressional Page, Now It Begins and Changeisgonnacome.

Johnson operates Legacy Farm in Bluemont, Virginia.