Spanning the globe – literally this week – to come up with the best quips and quotes from the world of racing.
The Eclipse Awards ceremony takes its fair share of criticism from the sharpies on the interweb – annual cries of it being boring, self serving, drawn out … almost always from the non-winners – but it still produces plenty of light and funny moments.
This year’s event at Gulfstream Park was no exception, from Wesley Ward to Tom Durkin to Steve Coburn. And don’t forget our very own Joe Clancy, winner for his piece in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred about eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome.
Other events, including stallion open houses in New York and the Longines World Best Racehorse Ceremony in London, from last week and this week to fill our notebooks and voice recorders. We’ve also got some numbers, tweets and other tidbits.
“It took me 30 years and 100 pounds to get back here.” – Wesley Ward, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice jockey in 1984, accepting champion female sprinter honors for his Judy the Beauty
“Wow, I’m exhausted.” – Trainer Art Sherman getting back to the stage to accept Horse of the Year honors for California Chrome
“I have no words.” – California Chrome’s co-owner and co-breeder Steve Coburn
“It never gets old.” – Ken Ramsey after winning Eclipse Award as outstanding owner
“You speak a little bit of French to someone and they suddenly think you’re fluent.” – Trainer Graham Motion, losing his place in a conversation with a new exercise rider at Palm Meadows
“That’s the first dirt winner I’ve had since . . . well, I don’t know when.” – Owner/breeder Bonner Young, on Gulfstream Park winner My Sweet Girl (a daughter of and a sister to graded stakes winners on the turf)
“We were in the jocks’ room trying to figure out who won and they were calling for us to get down to the paddock for the next race. NBC called The Bart at first.” – Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, on the impact of John Henry’s narrow Arlington Million win on the California jockey colony
“Not the racetrack kind.” – Jockey Rajiv Maragh, on eating “a lot of goat” over the holidays
“It’s a Lexus. Can’t you see the big L on the front?” – Maragh, in the midst of a story about a yellow car he used to own (and a guy who jumped in the backseat for a ride to the airport)
“I think your article put him over the top.” – Sherman, to TIHR’s Joe Clancy, after the Horse of the Year announcement
“What you see is what you get with us.” – Coburn, on the team of people involved with the Horse of the Year
“It was a building year for the Ravens anyway.” – Eagles fan Ryan Clancy, in response to being called a Ravens fan by Eclipse Awards host Jeannine Edwards Saturday night
“I spent one, and only one, winter in Saratoga.” – Announcer Tom Durkin, a Florida resident this time of year
“My feet are numb.” – New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ Executive Director Jeff Cannizzo hitting the open houses in Dutchess County Saturday
“I joke to people that Big Brown gets more mail than I do.” – Dutchess Views Farm’s Anya Sheckley on the new member of their roster for 2015
“We’re going to have all kinds of fun with Heavy Breathing.” – Sunrise Stallions’ Eric Bishop on the endless possibilities for clever names for offspring of the young Frost Giant stallion
“I’m very lucky to be invited to London. The last time I came to London is when Just A Way’s sire, Heart’s Cry, ran in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2006. He ran a very brave race at the time and he was third. At the time I was one of the syndicated members of the owner’s group. Now I’ve achieved my dream to be an individual owner and one of the first horses I’ve owned as an individual owner is now the … best of the world. So I like London now, very much.” – Akatsuki Yamatoya, owner of Just A Way, awarded the top rating during Tuesday’s Longines World’s Best Racehorse Ceremony
“We don’t think this stage could support everyone.” – Liz Price, international racing journalist and emcee for the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Ceremony, asking the winners to pose for a photo in the lobby of the iconic London hotel Claridge’s
“Next year at the auction the price will go up.” – Malaysian billionaire Teo Ah Khing of the China Horse Club, co-owner of Epsom and Irish Derby winner Australia. (Attention consignors, we think that means they’ll spend more at auction.)
Best of Twitter (Eclipse Awards edition)
From Teresa Genaro (@BklynBckstretch). July 2014: @joeclancy65’s Saratoga Special barred (briefly) from Saratoga Race Course. January 2015: Eclipse winner. July 2015?
From Ed DeRosa (@EJXD2). The Special can only come out once every 14 days.
Name of the Day
Hard Scuffle. Calumet Farm’s 3-year-old Nick Zito trainee is by Hard Spun but shares a handle with classic Kentucky steeplechase meet run by the Lampton family near Louisville.
Racing Pep Talk
You want to get excited about Thoroughbred racing? Or convince someone else to? Check out the acceptance speech by Tom Durkin at the Eclipse Awards. It’s magic. Here’s a sampling, but watch the entire video.
“… Durkin would call Bingo once a week after the races. So talented is Durkin at calling Bingo that he has been the subject of bidding wars from churches, synagogues and retirement communities throughout South Florida.” – Daily Racing Form’s Dave Grening introducing Eclipse Award of Merit winner Tom Durkin
“You have just given an Eclipse Award to a person who is allergic to horses.” – Durkin
“What other game, what other pursuit, provides a prism for such passions? If nothing else, horse racing is an obsessions fueled by dreams. And here in a room full of dreamers, thank goodness for these incredible horses and the incredible things they do.” – Durkin
Watch the whole video here, courtesy of HRTV.
Take A Number
0: Other fillies to receive votes in 3-year-old filly division (Untapable earned all 265 votes).
1: Notable jockey petrified of iguanas.
1: Notable jockey who used to catch iguanas as a boy and sell them to pet shops.
1: Potentially epic jocks’ room prank to come.
2: Eclipse Award winners ridden regularly by Robbie Walsh, jockey of steeplechase champion Demonstrative and exercise rider of male turf and older male champion Main Sequence.
7: Eclipse Awards for trainer Todd Pletcher, easily the record.
8: Horses with first-place votes for Horse of the Year: California Chrome, Main Sequence, Bayern, Shared Belief, Untapable, Wise Dan, Adelaide and Take Charge Brandi.
15: Closest vote spread of the 12 equine divisions – American Pharoah over Texas Red, 126-111.
40: Voter abstentions in steeplechase category. Come on, the information is right here.
125: Rating earned from an international group of handicappers for Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, the top-rated American-based horse and tied for eighth best in the world, announced at Tuesday’s Longines World’s Best Racehorse Ceremony.
130: Rating earned for Japan’s Just A Way, the top-rated horse in the world