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Smith Lilly: C.J. CRONAN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD



Posted March 8, 2002
Editor's Note: The following speech was read by Fred Sarver at the ASHA Annual Convention Awards Banquet held on Saturday, February 23, 2002.
Tonight, we honor a young man, with an award that is appropriately named for a man whose name is used as a synonym for sportsmanship. Mr. C.J. Cronan. Other qualities that also describe Mr. Cronan include honesty, integrity and gentleman. But the most important thing that we remember Mr. June Cronan for was his selfless love of the American Saddlebred Horse, and his total devotion to the horse and also to his fellow horseman.

Our honoree exemplifies the virtues and ideals set by Mr. Cronan.

Smith Lilly comes from a family of horsemen. His great-grandfather was a physician, who traveled by horseback to visit patients. His grandfather, Ira Mason Smith, for whom Smith is named, enjoyed American Saddlebreds all his life, and passed his love of the horse to his two talented and lovely daughters, Sandy, Smith’s mother and Dr. Clare Seagren, his aunt. Smith and his brother Wyatt had no choice but to think about horses from the cradle on.

Smith understands commitment. He is one of those people who you call when a job needs to be done. He is seen as a participant in clinics and shows, brining horses to special events, serving on boards and committees, and does all of this without complaint, or hesitation.

Smith has always been a competitor. He was a star quarterback in High School and played on special teams while he was a student at Davidson, that is, when it did not interfere with a horse show. Smith graduated from Davidson with a degree in Economics. I really don’t know why he studied economics, as he was already expert in economy. Smith has been known to squeeze a dollar. He could have taught economics. He also spent one summer in England at the London School of Economics, where he learned about pubs - free lunch!

It was during the summer of 1989 that Smith worked for me at Leatherwood Farm. I also might add that his brother Wyatt also worked for me that summer. It was quite an experience . . . for me! It was during that summer that I did my best to talk Smith out of becoming a horse trainer, and joining his father, Tom Lilly, and grandfather in their law practice, and have horses as a hobby. He would just ignore me. It was also that summer that Smith discovered a two-year-old colt that he just had to own. Some how, and I don’t remember all the details of how we sold, or how he bought RWC The Admiral’s Fantasy, but I remember I said he could have taught economics.

Smith would also work for Larry Barbee, Mitch Clark, and Nelson Green, all while giving credit to his mother and grandfather for their support and help.

Smith has started, and trained many horses that have been World Champions and winners of major stakes. He is also a great competitor in Futurity Classes. A few of the horses that are or have been associated with Smith include Starmonius, WC Fiana, WC CH Callaway’s Coraleen, Mountainview’s Prom Queen, RWC Haute Cappuccino, Mountainview’s Nite Dancer, RWC The Admiral’s Fantasy, RWC Bueno Day and RWC Have You Ever, and many, many more.

I might add that Smith is respected and well regarded by his peers, having received the UPHA Chapter Horseman of the Year Award.

In 2000, Smith showed us the true measure of his character, when he was wed to the former Alexandra Hayes. They are the proud parents of Jack, Baxter and Valerie, canine. They would tell you that they have a complete family.

2001 was a bountiful year for Smith in the show ring, culminating with the UPHA Five-Gaited Championship at the American Royal with Leatherwood Farm’s RWC Have You Ever!

One last thing . . . about talking Smith out of becoming a professional horseman . . . I was wrong! Ladies and gentlemen, let me present a young man with a bright future. Mr. Smith Lilly.

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