Top Form and Upsets in 2008 Insiders Awards

To honor those individuals and animals that made the 2008 racing season memorable, and to celebrate our second year, the officers of have created the HRI Awards, a.k.a. “The Insiders.”

The winners represent the combined opinions of HRI’s editorial staff. Some honorees will be familiar names in the sport and obvious winners in their respective categories; some not.

In keeping with the HRI’s mission and budding traditions, however, we occasionally strayed from traditional, Eclipse-type categories in search of something a little more eclectic.

We also entertained ourselves but highlighting the lowlights of a racing season past.

As usual, your comments are appreciated and encouraged. Here then, the second annual awards, “The Insiders.”

Dramatic Moment of 2008 Insider Award: Jockeys of yesterday awaiting the starter to spring the latch for the start of the Legends Race at Santa Anita Park.

The One That Got Away Insider Award: Old Fashioned, owned by Fox Hill Farms, the most accomplished two-year-old of 2008 not subsequently purchased by a Sheikh.

Best Seat in the House Insider Award: Turf Club at Santa Anita Park in a photo over the Saratoga Clubhouse box area. Honorable Mention: The Racebook at Red Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.

Impact Trainer of the Year Insider Award 2008: To Rick Dutrow for demonstrating all that is right and all that is wrong with the state of the game.

Mighty Z Best Synthetic Surface Match-Up Not Run in 2008 Insider Award: Zarkava vs. Zenyatta.

Most Dangerous Trend of 2008 That Has Nothing To Do With Business Insider Award: To the sports editors at mainstream newspapers who eliminated Horse Racing coverage.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road Insider Award of 2008: To Pete Anderson, trainer of the wondrous road warrior, Delightful Kiss.

Best Actor In a Supporting Role Insider Award for 2008: To trainer Jack Van Berg for speaking truth to power at the Congressional hearing on racing last summer.

Individual Performance By a Trainer In a Starring Role Insider Award 2008: To Bob Baffert for his Breeders’ Cup work with Midnight Lute.

I’ve Got Your PETA Right Here Insider Award 2008: To Jockey Gabriel Saez for achieving a redemptive moment with his dramatically heady victory aboard Eclipse finalist Proud Spell in Saratoga’s Alabama Stakes.

Glitch of the Millennium Insider Award: To Scientific Games Corporation for offering Quick Pick superfectas on the 2008 Kentucky Derby and excluding post position 20.

The Waiting For Godot Insider Award 2008: To Southern California racing fans awaiting the closure of Hollywood Park.

The Homework Can Be Mind Numbing Insider Award 2008: To the panel that rewarded the pictorial image of Frankie Dettori’s flying dismount with an Eclipse Award when virtually the same image won in 1999.

Broken Abacus Insider Award 2008: To Oak Tree Racing Association bean counters whose $5-million Breeders’ Cup revenue projections fell short by $3-million.

Never Mind What I Told You I’m Telling You Insider Award 2008: To Greg Avioli who gave Charlie Hayward his word that Belmont Park would host the 2010 Breeders’ Cup then reneged and awarded the event to Churchill Downs.

Best Racing Organization Insider Award 2008: To the Kentucky Horse Park for adding Alysheba and Funny Cide to their tradition of celebrating the sport’s best equine seniors.

Sportsman of the Year 2008 Insider Award: To owner Jess Jackson for believing in the greatness of his beloved Curlin then went above and beyond the call to prove it.

Insider Storyline of the Year 2008 Award: Racing Industry summoned to Washington D. C. in the wake of the Eight Belles Kentucky Derby tragedy.

The How To Embarrass Industry Professionals/Mindless Promotion Insider Award 2008: To Churchill Downs Inc. for instituting the Announcer Call-Off Auditions.

Most Under-Appreciated Significant Victory of 2008 Insider Award: To three-year-old filly Zarkava for her defeat of older males in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Charismatic Performer of the Year 2008 Insider Award: To Big Brown who, on balance, generated more excitement than any horse appearing under tack this year.

Jockey of the Year 2008 Insider Award: To Garrett Gomez for consistently dominating the Grade 1 stage.

Overachiever of the Year 2008 Insider Award: To the history making little New Mexico-bred filly that could, Peppers Pride.

Shooting Fish In a Barrel Disappointment of 2008 Insider Award: To Big Brown in his stunningly empty performance in the Belmont Stakes.

Blooper of the Year 2008 Insider Award: To Breeders’ Cup officials for pulling the plug on the supplemental stakes program for a few days before reinstituting the series underwriting 100 existing stakes races at 40 tracks..

Best Horseman No One’s Ever Heard Of Insider Award 2008: To trainer Jack Fisher for engineering a perfect eight-month 5-for-5 Grade 1 campaign over disparate distances and surfaces with steeplechaser Good Night Shirt.

The Me First And We Don’t Care What the Fans Think Insider Award 2008: To all parties in various ADW disputes who cared more about the bottom line than how their actions negatively impacted the industry.

Insider Top 10 Best Known Horses of All Time: Black Beauty, Trigger, Secretariat, Seabiscuit, Velvet, Silver, Man o’ War, Ruffian, Dan Patch, Phar Lap. (Mr. Ed has taken us off his speed dial).

Written by John Pricci

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