Insiders Redress Eclipse Snub of Calvin
SARATOGA SPRINGS, February 18, 2010--In keeping with tradition, HorseRaceInsider each year salutes the newsmakers of the previous racing season, whether they be good, bad, or downright ugly.
And, so, in the early part of the year, staffers Bill Christine, Vic Zast and executive editor John Pricci huddle up and determine who shall be feted, and who shall be tweaked.
We like to think that the tweaking part is all in good fun, and will be accepted as such. Of course, that’s in a perfect world.
And, to be honest, we can be a little cheeky when people or events warrant. So for the most part we just let’er rip.
In that spirit, here are the winners of the 2009 Insider Awards, a.k.a. the Insiders, saluting and sending-up a racing season recently past:
The Dramatic Moment of 2009 Insider Award: Goes to Zenyatta. Her Breeders’ Cup was the stuff of a racing time capsule.
The One That Got Away Insiders Award: Goes to Zenyatta, for a Hall of Fame season lacking a Horse of the Year portfolio.
The Best Seat in the House Insiders Award: Goes to the Turf Club at Santa Anita Park in a repeat victory, by a nose margin over the Saratoga Clubhouse box area.
The Impact Trainer of the Year Insider Award 2009: A dead-heat that goes to Linda Rice and Kathleen O’Connell for becoming the first women to win training titles at major race meets. (We encourage vote-splitting here).
The I’ll-Get-Mine and To-Hell-With-Racing’s Future 2009 Insider: Goes to the Industry Management and State Regulators who accept the practice of raising takeout as a viable alternative to poor business practices.
The Where the Rubber Meets the Road Insider Award of 2009: To Hal Wiggins and Steve Asmussen, for taking Rachel Alexandra on the road for seven of her eight victories this year, the last five Grade 1.
The Best Actor In a Supporting Role Insider for 2009: Goes to NTRA President Alex Waldrop who appeared at a New York State Senate hearing on the fiscal condition of the New York Racing Association for his impersonating an industry leader.
Individual Performance By a Trainer In a Starring Role Insider Award: Goes to John Shirreffs in a rout, for his perfect handling of a perfect race mare.
The Waiting For Godot 2009 Insiders Award: Goes to Southern California racing fans still awaiting the closure of Hollywood Park.
The Lack-of-Imagination In-Bad-Taste Insider of 2009: Goes to the same Eclipse panel which last year rewarded the pictorial image of Frankie Dettori’s flying dismount when virtually the same image won in 1999, for again repeating the sight of a fallen steeplechaser in the photo category.
The Never-Mind-What-I-Told-You-I’m-Telling-You Insider of 2009: Goes to New York Governor David Paterson for his oft-delayed naming of a VLT franchise operator for Aqueduct Racetrack, and still getting it wrong when he did.
The Best Racing Organization Insider for 2009: To the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation for its continued great work, year after year after year.
The Sportsman of the Year 2009 Insider: Goes to owner Jess Jackson for taking a second, then a third shot at males with a three-year-old filly, the last one against older horses.
The Insiders Storyline of the Year 2009 Award: Goes to the failure of industry leaders to work together and bringing the sport to the edge of an abyss.
The Most Under-Appreciated Significant Victory of 2009 Insider Award: To three-year-old colt Sea the Stars after being surrounded throughout by his three Juddmonte International rivals.
The Jockey of the Year 2009 Insider: Goes to Calvin Borel whose daring ride got a 50-1 shot home in the race every rider wants to win, the Kentucky Derby, and for never losing his cool in several pressurized spots aboard Rachel Alexandra.
The Overachiever of the Year 2009 Insider: Goes to Cloudy’s Knight for perhaps the best season any nine-year-old thoroughbred ever had.
The Blooper of the Year 2009 Insider: Goes to trainer Jeff Mullins for getting caught with a syringe inside the Aqueduct detention barn.
The Best Horseman No One’s Ever Heard of Insider Award of 2009: Goes to jockey Diego Saenz who, despite riding at better than 20% and whose mounts earned nearly $5-million last year still has no biography on the Jockeys Guild web-site.
The What's Up With That Toyota Recall Award of 2009: To New York City OTB officials who never noticed their fleet of company cars only went in reverse.
The Me-First We Don’t Care What the Fans Think Insiders Award 2009: A repeat win for all parties in various ADW disputes who care more about their bottom line than how their actions negatively impact the industry.
The Top 10-Plus-One Best Known Horses of All-Time Insiders Redux: Goes to Black Beauty, Dan Patch, Man o’ War, Mr. Ed, Phar Lap, Ruffian, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Silver, Trigger, Velvet.
The Julie Krone Equal Pay for Equal Work We Don't Mean to Be Sexist Award of 2009: Goes to jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. who's as heady as any top race rider in America and, excuse us for observing, finishes like a man.
The What Have You Done for Us Lately Insider Award: Goes to Lady's Secret, a Hall of Famer whose name was removed from a stakes race at Oak Tree-Santa Anita to make room for a race named in honor of Zenyatta.
The Tackiest Promotion of the Year 2009 Insiders: Goes to Del Mar, known for catering to the beautiful people, but last year staged its first ever Miss Cougar Contest.
The Timing Is Everything Insider for 2009: Goes to Richard Shapiro, former chairman of the California Horse Racing Board. For two weeks, the parking-lot security cameras at Hollywood Park didn't work. The day after they were fixed, Shapiro was caught on tape keying the car of rival Jerry Jamgotchian.
The Some Guys Look Good in Morning Suits Insider: Goes to Wesley Ward, the American trainer who saddled two winners at Royal Ascot.
The Insiders 2009 Flip-Flop Award: Goes to Calvin Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird then abandoned him for the Preakness aboard Rachel.
The Dodging a Bullet Insider of 2009: Goes to the owners of Lava Man, who brought him back to race five days before his 10th birthday and were fortunate that the horse, while running poorly, wasn't injured.
The What Goes-Around Comes-Around Insider: Goes to Ernie Paragallo. When Paragallo ran Unbridled's Song in the 1996 Kentucky Derby, he came off as a condescending and arrogant. Paragallo got his comeuppance in 2009, albeit at the expense of dozens of abused animals.
The Tea Baggers Insider for 2009: Goes to the U.S. Postal Service. Instead of issuing a Seabiscuit stamp, they created a stamped envelope with Seabiscuit's likeness on it and charged an extra eight cents. To our knowledge, no one ever has received mail in said envelope.
The Let’s Get Breeders’ Cup into Prime Time Insiders Award: Goes to Churchill Downs Inc. for installing lights and hosting well reviewed pilot programs. Should the event go prime time and fail, it will be re-named The Jay Leno-Conan Who Insider in 2011.
The Emerging Trend That Won't Go Away Anytime Soon Insider: Goes to the cutback in racing dates at major tracks, in a photo over huge declines in the Bloodstock market.
The Don't Expect to See This Again in 2010 Insider: Goes to Two Female Horse of the Year Finalists in a close finish over the runner-up; a six-horse noses-apart photo finish for win at Saratoga.
Written by John Pricci