NYRA and the National Museum of Racing to honor Pierre “Peb” Bellocq at Belmont on July 9
by Pat McKenna
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will highlight the career and accomplishments of the renowned cartoonist Pierre “Peb” Bellocq during a ceremony at Belmont Park on Saturday, July 9 as part of the Stars and Stripes Racing Festival.
Stars and Stripes Day features four graded stakes headlined by the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational for sophomores and the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies, which serve as the 10-furlong opening legs of the Caesars Turf Triple Series. Also featured on the lucrative card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban, a 10-furlong test for older horses; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.
In 2020, Bellocq was selected to be a member of the National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, NYRA and the Racing Museum have yet to hold a public event to commemorate this honor.
NYRA and the National Museum of Racing will honor Peb’s contributions in a variety of ways including a race named in his honor followed by a winner’s circle ceremony featuring Bellocq alongside family and friends.
“The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame would like to thank NYRA for generously offering to host this wonderful day in honor of Peb, whose art and humor have captured the unique and vibrant characters and scenes of thoroughbred racing for generations,” said Brien Bouyea, Communications Director at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. “The racing world owes Peb a great deal of gratitude for his lifetime of distinguished work that has brought so much joy to the sport.”
Bellocq, 95, was born in France in 1926. At age 19, the French racing journal France Courses gave him national exposure by publishing one of his cartoons of a jockey. Bellocq signed the drawing as “Peb,” a signature that became his lifelong moniker.
By 1954, Bellocq’s work had achieved international acclaim and he was contracted by Laurel Park owner John D. Schapiro to do drawings for the prestigious Washington, D.C. International Stakes. Bellocq decided to relocate to the United States and in 1955 accepted an offer to work as the staff cartoonist for the Morning Telegraph and its sister paper, Daily Racing Form, a job he held until December 2008. Early in this career, Bellocq also produced political cartoons for the Philadelphia Inquirer while simultaneously working for the Form. Bellocq eventually transitioned his primary focus to thoroughbred racing.
Along with his work for the Form, Bellocq has been commissioned by numerous racetracks to produce vibrant murals capturing the flavor of the sport. At Belmont Park, he created a mural which is featured prominently on the 2nd floor of the clubhouse featuring a wide variety of racing personalities. His large-scale cartoon collages have become fixtures at Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Arlington, Oaklawn, Aqueduct, and The Meadowlands.
Bellocq has also produced several books; his first, published in 1957, consisted of 150 cartoons and was titled “Peb’s Equine Comedy.” Bellocq also illustrated the 1969 Joe Hirsch book “A Treasury of Questions and Answers from the Morning Telegraph and Daily Racing Form.” In 2004, he created drawings for author Ed Hotaling’s book on Hall of Fame jockey Jimmy Winkfield, whom Bellocq had known personally when the rider was living and racing in his hometown of Maisons-Laffitte.
Bellocq has received numerous awards for his work, which has been exhibited extensively. In 1980, he received an Eclipse Award for his contributions to racing and he was presented The Jockey Club Medal in 2016. Bellocq also received the National Cartoonists Society 1991 Sports Cartoon Award and their 1999 Newspaper Illustration Award. In 1998, the Daniel Wildenstein Art Gallery in New York held an exhibition of Bellocq’s work titled The Racing World in Sketch and Caricature. From July 2004 through December 2005, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame put on a special exhibition of his works titled Peb: The Art of Humor, which celebrated his 50th anniversary of horse racing artwork in the United States.
For more information, please visit NYRA.com.