More than 600 people are expected to turn out tonight for the second annual African-American Heritage Society tribute to black horsemen at the Pimlico Sports Palace.
The affair is organized by Tom Saunders, Inez Chappell and Dr. Ernest Colvin, head of the state racing commission. The group will honor 29 black Marylanders who have contributed to the success of the state's horse racing industry.
Chief among the honorees is the late Basil A. Hall Sr., the first black member of the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association. Hall raced horses for 59 years and operated Fair Rock Farm near Monkton. His horses won more than 600 races. His best horse was the filly, Bee A.H., who later became a member of his broodmare band.
Hall, who died in 1976 at age 90, also started one of the state's first commercial horse vanning companies and was successful in many other business ventures.
Sam Lacy, who has covered racing for the Afro-American newspaper for many years, and Sylvia Bishop, the nation's first black woman trainer, also are being honored.
Also being recognized for their accomplishments are:
* Three jockeys -- Wayne Barnett, Leon Raney and Michael Clay.
* Eleven trainers -- Dr. Donald Hughes, Norman Johnson, Horace Parker, Bernard Palmer, Marshall Turner, Joseph Snowden, Maurice Key, Harold Rice, the father and son training duo of William S. Berry, Jr. and Sr., and Jenille Tapscott.
* Eight owner-breeders -- Dr. Willie Richardson, Dale Dickerson, Dale Avery Dickerson, Robert Miller, Thomas Gardner, David Richmond, Melvin Davis and Raleigh Washington.
* Four other well-known personalities -- stable foreman Herman Hall, jockey equipment supplier Charles Turner, author Serena Mills and Willie Coleman, director of security at Laurel and Pimlico.
The reception is being held in conjunction with Black History Month. Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg, Mayor Kurt Schmoke and track owner Joe De Francis are expected to attend.