The 33rd annual Eclipse Awards will air this Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
Michael Gill, who ended 2003 as the leading owner in both categories of money earned ($9.2 million) and races won (425), and in doing so became only the ninth owner in 100 years to claim both titles, issued a statement Thursday following the announcement earlier this week that Juddmonte Farms was voted the Eclipse Award for "Outstanding Owner."
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- For clues as to why the coronation of Mineshaft as Horse of the Year was not unanimous, a call to Sigmund Freud would be necessary. The human mind can be a strange thing.
In seven races in Europe in 2002, all Mineshaft was able to do was break his maiden in a one-mile turf race at Newmarket in England. The final two starts of his 3-year-old campaign produced victories in allowance company in the United States, and they were much more indicative of things to come. The son of A. P. Indy went on to win 10 of 18 lifetime starts before being retired and on Monday was named Horse of the Year and champion handicap horse for 2003.
Action This Day didn't get into serious action for an Eclipse Award until the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). But when he did, there was no stopping him in his first added-money start. The son of Kris S. charged through the Santa Anita stretch to win North America's richest race for 2-year-olds for owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Richard Mandella.
When she drew the outside post in the 14-winner's field for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), there were some handicappers who thought that would be enough to stop the unbeaten streak of Halfbridled.
Eclipse Award voting has become extremely subjective in recent years. Because of several factors, such as shortened campaigns and the lack of a standout performer over a period of time, voters often have little in the way of ammunition when it comes time to crown a worthy champion. So, they must turn to intangibles.
The crowning achievement of Bird Town's 3-year-old campaign began with a dose of bad luck. When the gates sprang open for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on May 2, the Marylou Whitney homebred stumbled, and the confirmed front-running filly was 11th in the field of 12. The slower-than-usual start, however, helped turn her into a lioness in front of a national audience in deep stretch as the daughter of Cape Town ran to victory in an unforgettably powerful performance.
She is so much more than Queen for a Day. Actually, she is now even more than Queen for a Year. Azeri', 2002's champion older female and Horse of the Year, made a successful case for an encore presentation among older distaffers, and will keep the champion older female trophy for her work in 2003.
Aldebaran was the bridesmaid no longer in 2003. The son of Mr. Prospector, who finished second six times in eight starts in 2002, proved fully capable of reaching the winner's circle in 2003 and earned the Eclipse Award for champion sprinter in the process with five graded stakes wins in eight starts.
High Chaparral (IRE) is an outstanding example of trainer Aidan O'Brien's ability to put the right horse in the right place. The son of Sadler's Wells made only 13 starts in his three years at the track. He won 10 of those starts, including six group or grade I races, and never finished worse than third. In 2003, High Chaparral raced only four times -- two of those outings resulted in grade or group I victories.
After dominating the 3-year-old female division in Europe in 2002, and challenging the best that continent had to offer in 2003 -- both male and female -- Islington (IRE) shipped to the United States for a return engagement in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) where she registered a neck victory over fellow Irish-bred L'Ancresse. That one win, along with topping the final poll of the Filly & Mare Turf World Thoroughbred Rankings at 120 pounds, was enough to secure the daughter of Sadler's Wells an Eclipse Award as the top turf female of 2003.
Juddmonte Farms added to its growing collection of Eclipse statuettes with a second trophy for being North AmericaÕs leading owner. Juddmonte, owned by 66-year-old Prince Khalid Abdullah, has won four Eclipse Awards for top breederÑin 1995, 2001, 2002, and 2003Ñas well as the Eclipse for top owner in 1992 and 2003. As an owner in 2003, Juddmonte had 33 winners from 122 starts and earnings of $6,265,030 to rank third in North America.
If the goal is to breed graded stakes winners, and it is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with that goal, then Juddmonte Farms was the wagering favorite to win its third consecutive Eclipse Award as the outstanding breeder of 2003.
By all accounts, 2002 was Bobby Frankel's year. He had 60 stakes wins from January to December, $17,748,340 in earnings, won 24% of all his races, trained two Eclipse Award finalists, and earned an Eclipse himself. Then came 2003.
Jerry Bailey is racing's version of Starship Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk, boldly going where no man has gone before. In 2003, he won more stakes (70) in one year than any other rider in history, and his mounts set a single-season earnings mark of $23,354,960. Bailey also established another riding record when he scored his 14th victory in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships while guiding Six Perfections to the wire first in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
While working in Los Santos, Panama, Eddie Castro had to make a big decision. Would he continue attending night school to become an electrician or would he concentrate full time on racehorse riding and move to the United States? The 18-year-old chose to continue riding and now is an Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey.
A piano player touches the keys to make music. Elton John makes the keys sing. A quarterback throws the football. Peyton Manning makes the football go places. A steeplechase winner's runs and jumps. McDynamo floats. He's better than other horses. A master.
The 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victory by Funny Cide was voted the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Moment of the Year, officials said. It was one of 10 "moments" on the ballot.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Wednesday that KSPN/ESPN Radio 710 in Los Angeles and WBAL Radio in Baltimore have tied for the Media Eclipse Award for Audio/Multi-Media Internet coverage of Thoroughbred racing
Bobby Frankel, who did not participate in last year's inaugural $3.6 million Sunshine Millions, plans to have four startes in the 2004 series, which pits Florida and California breds in a series of eight stakes races at Gulfstream and Santa Anita parks.
William Nack, Jay Hovdey, and Frank Anderson will collect media Eclipse awards from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association during the Jan. 26 dinner program in Hollywood, Fla.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has announced that Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will host the 33rd Eclipse Awards program, to be held Jan. 26 at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla. Stevens made his acting debut as George Woolf in last year's critically acclaimed movie Seabiscuit.
Richard L. "Dick" Duchossois, who brought Arlington Park back from the ashes, and then saw the track become a part of Churchill Downs Inc., has been selected to receive an Eclipse Award of Merit.
The Juddmonte Farms juggernaut of owner/breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah and prominently represented by trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Jerry Bailey is in position to add to its large collection of Eclipse Awards when the annual black-tie dinner is held Jan. 26 at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla.
A memorial service for prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder John Franks, who died Dec. 31 at the age of 78, is set for Jan. 3.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association, which annually present the Eclipse Awards, announced Friday that they will implement new voting procedures for the awards, effective this year.
Trainer Laura de Seroux is excited about the way reigning Horse of the Year Azeri is training up to the Oct. 25. Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Creation of an Eclipse Awards points system gives racing fans something to follow year-round.
The 33rd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, honoring divisional champions for the 2003, will be held Monday, January 26, 2004 at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla.
Like father, like son. Twenty-seven years ago, Seattle Slew rolled to a 3-0 record and earned an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. His son, Vindication, is the 2002 Eclipse winner in the same category after compiling a 4-0 mark that included a powerful 23?4-length victory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and outpointing rivals Toccet and Sky Mesa
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- The NTRA needs to clearly define for voters what the awards are supposed to recognize and should take control of who votes for the awards, inviting a panel of 50 to 100 of the most qualified and unbiased people in racing to participate.
The death of champion Seattle Slew was selected by racing fans as the 2002 "NTRA Moment of the Year." An online pole conducted the voting and the results were announced at the Jan. 27 Eclipse Awards dinner in Beverly Hills, Calif.
There were no standing ovations and only a handful of laughs at the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards Dinner held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday night. But emotions ran high during many of the presentations, not the least of which during Michael Paulson's tearful acceptance of the Horse of the Year trophy for Azeri.
With all the debating about Azeri's Horse of the Year credentials, it turned out to be a landslide. The daughter of Jade Hunter did not defeat males during her 2002 campaign, but she certainly dominated them in the voting for racing's highest honor.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Monday that Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and 2003 Golden Globe winner Chris Cooper, actors in the upcoming Universal Pictures' film "Seabiscuit," about the legendary racehorse of the same name, will be presenters at the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif., Monday, Jan. 27.
By Robert D. Bolson -- While reading about Bob Baffert's recent grousing and nagging displeasure with the Eclipse Awards I was reminded of Ronald Reagan's memorable remark to then-president Jimmy Carter during the second 1980 presidential debate: "There you go again."
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Eclipse voters may have potential conflicts of interest, but most take their jobs very seriously.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced that Premiere Radio Networks has won the Media Eclipse Award for Audio/Multi-Media Internet coverage of Thoroughbred racing.
Azeri, impressive winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Arlington Park on Oct. 26, was a unanimous selection for champion older female of 2002 when finalists for Eclipse Awards were announced Friday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers Association, and Daily Racing Form.
The late Ogden Phipps, who bred and raced generations of champion Thoroughbred racehorses, and longtime racing secretary and handicapper Howard Battle, who died of cancer last summer, have been named co-recipients of the Eclipse Award of Merit.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Tuesday that the new Keeneland library, one of the world's largest public-access repositories for information related to Thoroughbred horseracing and the Thoroughbred breed, has been selected to receive a Special Eclipse Award.
Joe Drape of the New York Times has won the media Eclipse Award for writing in the news/commentary category for his series of articles on a fraudulent wagering scheme associated with the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6.
The telecast of the 2001 Louisiana Champions Day has won the Eclipse Award for local television, it was announced today. The show was shown on Fox Sports Net Southwest.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) on Thursday unveiled an expanded, nine-show "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series for 2003, airing on the ESPN networks and providing comprehensive coverage of key VISA Triple Crown prep races.
The end of The Backstretch magazine, a bimonthly published by the United Thoroughbred Trainers of America, was called "a great disappointment" by its managing editor.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Monday that the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, honoring Thoroughbred horseracing's divisional champions for the year 2002, will be held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 27, 2003.
Gary Tanaka's Gourmet Girl, who was honored with an Eclipse Award as champion older female of 2001 the previous week, has been retired from racing according to trainer Pico Perdomo.
Barbara Livingston, recipient of the 2001 Eclipse Award for photography, had her statuette stolen at the award ceremony Feb. 18. The Eclipse Award dinner was held at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla.
Trainer Bopbby Frankel had a year in which his earnings of $14,987,446 took second billing to his remarkable string of graded stakes victories. It was impressive enough that he saddled 13 horses to win 18 grade I stakes, but what was really remarkable was that 16 of those grade I stakes came in the last six months of the year--three each in July, August, September, and October, and two each in November and December.
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