Loyal readers of this space know, perhaps all too much, how I struggle to find a topic to write about every week. I sweat, sometimes going to bed without having written anything only to wake up at 4:30 AM on Tuesday morning to post something that, we can all agree, might be the best piece of commentary you read all week.* No use in being modest here. This week, up until a few days ago, was no different, and then the National Thoroughbred Racing Association threw a hanging curve at 50 miles per hour: it’s choosing to sit on the Horse of the Year nominations.
In defense of the NTRA, all the major sports never announce the finalists for end-of-year honors like Most Valuable Player of the Cy Young. However, those sports don’t have a banquet and create it like a ceremony. They also don’t announce the nominations to every other category and hold off on the biggest one. The Eclipse Awards is more like the ESPYs and Oscars than anything else. Double however, horse racing is not a major sport.
Here’s what the Paulick Report’s Brad Cummings got when he asked publicist Jim Gluckson about this, “As agreed by the Eclipse Awards Steering Committee, in certain years finalists for Horse of the Year are not announced until the Dinner ceremony because announcing them today could have indicated which horses were going to win an individual category, therefore, reducing the element of surprise.”
Surprise! Twenty eleven just got worse! Out of the nominees that were announced last week, none, aside from Havre de Grace and Caleb’s Posse, stand out as a potential Horse of the Year threats. You know who didn’t even make the cut? Drosselmeyer. I know, Finders Key has more talent than him, but he did win the Breeders’ Cup Classic over Havre de Grace and Game on Dude, both horses being nominated for Champion Older Sex divisions.
Who are the NTRA trying to surprise? There are three groups of people:
I’m not sure why they’d care to be surprised. Honestly, they know as well as anyone who has a shot at certain awards and who doesn’t. Larry Jones is happy. Donnie K. Von Hemel, too. The others might have to loosen their bow ties because of the suspense.
I think I speak for most when I say this is just annoying. Most of us have nothing better to write about than the Eclipse Awards in November, December, and January, and instead of writing about our favorite performances ... our girlfriend’s parents just came home early. This is awards ceremony-style blue balls.
3. The Fans
All 3,400** people who have TVG drool over a good surprise. Hold on. I’ll text my two friends what they think about this ... wait for it ... don’t they realize I’m a busy blogger? Should I start talking about Rapid Redux again? Looks as if I’m going to have to start ... There’s a response!
Me: “Do you think it’s dumb?”
Tommy: “They should vacate it this year.”
That must be it! And out jumped from the cake: nothing!
*Did I say best? I meant greatest.
** This is not official, though it’s got to be close.
*** Creepy. His response was independent of my above riff on Rapid Redux. Thus proving my theory, to quote Neil McDonald, “Germans love David Hasselhoff.”
Brendan O'Meara is the author of Six Weeks in Saratoga. You can follow him on Twitter.