My first trip to the Eclipse Awards – what a year to make your maiden voyage. Beverly Hills. Summer Bird. Lookin At Lucky. Gio Ponti. Julien Leparoux. Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra?
My vote was for Zenyatta. My vote doesn't count. Rachel was certainly well deserved – 8-for-8 – hard to split greatness either way you look at it.
I met and spoke with Zenyatta’s connections, Ann and Jerry Moss, just marched up and introduced myself at the cocktail party the night before the big show. I was amazed how down to Earth and easy they were to talk to – maybe they’ll want to send a horse to Laurel, I know a good trainer . . . They seemed very excited to be racing Zenyatta in the new year. Everyone is looking forward to the 2010 racing year. Pimlico Special Match Race? Remember War Admiral/Seabiscuit? Rachel Alexandra/Zenyatta? We can always dream.
The real reason I was out here this year is my friend Sean. What a great story he wrote on Sidney Watters ("Life's Work", Jan. 3, 2009. Blood-Horse magazine). Congratulations! To think I knew him when . . . he was working for Janet Elliot and trying to hustle rides for the claimer at Saratoga.
I also met and talked with George Strawbridge Jr., owner of Informed Decision, winner of female sprinter title. He’s a huge supporter of racing and I liked what he said about Jonathan Sheppard allowing Informed Decision to get over a warm knee with rest rather than stress. Sheppard is a credit to the game. We talked about Maryland racing and where it was heading, at least where we HOPED it was heading. He used to run a lot of horses in Maryland, but, then again, didn’t we all?
I met Monique Koehler, Special Eclipse Award winner for all her work with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. She was one of the first to openly talk and openly try to do something about retiring our horses. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for the retired Thoroughbred.
The 2009 Eclipse Awards were a wonderful experience for me. I watched my best friend accomplish something most of us in Thoroughbred racing only dream about and met the champions of our sport.
Inspiration comes in many forms.