Eclipse Dinner Date, Location Changed

The Eclipse Award dinner honoring champions of 2000 has been changed to a new date and location, according to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Originally scheduled for the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton on Monday, Jan. 29, 2001, the dinner will be held one day later, Jan. 30, at the Saenger Theatre, also in New Orleans.

Keith Chamblin, NTRA vice president of industry relations and marketing, said the location was changed because of a determination that the Ritz- Carlton ballroom was insufficient to accommodate the anticipated number of attendees. Chamblin said the revised date would also ensure the availability of ESPN's Kenny Mayne to host the event.

"When we looked at the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton, we decided it was too small," Chamblin said. "In recent years, the Eclipse Awards has evolved into more of a show than just an awards dinner."

While the NTRA is "not sure of what kind of crowd we will have in New Orleans," Chamblin said it was apparent that the original site could not handle the size of the Eclipse dinner.

Chamblin said the new site will also provide a better setting for the dinner. "The change in venue allows us to give our guests the best possible 'theater' experience for the awards ceremony itself and the Saenger provides a spectacular backdrop to our dinner," said Chamblin.

According to the NTRA, the theater was built in 1927 to echo an Italian Baroque courtyard, complete with atmospheric lighting arranged in patterns that resemble stars in the night sky. The Saenger presents musical, theatrical and performing arts entertainment throughout the year and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The facility will be transformed into a private dinner-theater for the Eclipse Awards ceremony