Autism Awareness was an 8 year old race horse from California. He was injured in a race on April 14, 2013, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California and he had to be euthanized because of the extent of his injuries. Johnny Taboada owned Autism Awareness and gave him his name to draw attention to autism, because his 13 year old son Riley has autism. Autism Awareness is the first horse to be named an Autism Light and the horse's name will be placed on the Autism Light Memorial Roll today.
Autism Awareness was more than a horse to those who followed him and to his owner Johnny Taboada, who told Horse Racing Nation, "He has something we can't explain; the horse is here for a reason, and it's a bigger purpose than racing (Source)."
The Blood-Horse staff at BloodHorse.com wrote a tribute to Autism Awareness on their site and they described the horse in this way.
The 8-year-old son of Tannersmyman out of Sharp Victor mare Lady Essex, was bred in California by Jim Eaton, Paul Arndt, Dave Marabela, and Mr. and Mrs. Terry Smith. Johnny Taboada purchased the colt for $1,000 at the 2006 California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's Northern California yearling sale.
Named to help draw attention to autism, a cognitive development disorder from which Taboada's 13-year-old son suffers, the colt earned $356,732. Autism Awareness was trained by Genaro Vallejo for all of his 39 starts and held a record of 5-5-2.
Autism Awareness scored his biggest victories in the 2008 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) and the 2009 Berkeley Stakes (gr. III). He also placed in the Governor's Handicap at Sacramento and the Bull Dog Stakes at Fresno. [Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/78454/popular-runner-autism-awareness-dies#ixzz2aFlG7zo4]
After the race that caused his death, Johnny Taboada told Horse Racing Nation, "This is by far the saddest day of my racing career. Autism Awareness has always had a very special place in my heart. This is very hard to swallow, he was one of a kind (Source)."
Each race Autism Awareness was in he was able to raise awareness to the cause of autism by his name. May his life show other owners that the name of a race horse can have an impact on advocacy. Autism Awareness is a fitting Autism Light to represent horses around the world who are making a difference for autism, many through horse therapy. We expect he won't be the last horse to be an Autism Light.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.