The American horse racing community is reflecting on the passing away of John Asher, Churchill Downs vice president for racing communications, on Monday this week. Aged 62, he was described as an ‘irreplaceable ambassador for Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby’.

“To say that racing has lost one of its giants with the passing of John Asher does not begin to capture the impact this man has had and will continue to have on the Churchill Downs family,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “His passion for the Kentucky Derby, horse racing, his WKU Hilltoppers, great music, and above all else his loving family was genuine and infectious. Racing has lost an icon.”

Asher was recognized in 2004 as Public Relations Practitioner of the Year by the Western Kentucky University School of Journalism and Broadcasting. A former president of the WKU National Alumni Board of Directors, he also was honored with a Summit Award for his volunteer efforts for the university.

Asher was well-known for his generous community service outreach and volunteerism. He was a former member of the board of directors of the Kentuckiana Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, and was honored as the chapter’s “Volunteer of the Year” in 2004.Plans for a memorial service that could occur as early as next week will be finalized in the coming days, according to his wife Dee Asher.