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Sound Bites from the 2013 Eclipse Awards

Wise Dan and jockey John Velazquez win the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
The Eclipse Awards recognize the outstanding performances for 2012 and I wanted to share some highlights and the best comments from the year-end ceremony.
Wise Dan became the first horse since John Henry in 1981, to win three Eclipse Awards in a year. Owner Morton Fink said, “I owe a lot to this horse because something that makes me so happy helped to keep an 83 year-old man alive a little longer.”
His trainer, Charlie LoPresti talked about what a durable and hard-working horse Wise Dan had been all year. After the win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Lopresti’s nephew said, “Why don’t we put the bridle back on and run right back him in the Classic.”
Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai also won three Eclipse Awards. His Godolphin Stable won the Owner Award, his Darley Stable took the top Breeder, and Questing squeaked out the Eclipse for Three Year-Old Fillies in the closest vote 106-102 over My Miss Aurelia. The Sheikh’s representative Jimmy Bell said that, “All of their grade one winners, except It’s Tricky, would be back to race in 2013.”
Steven Crist of the Daily Racing Form, who amazingly has never won an Eclipse Media Award, introduced Handicapper of the Year, Michael Beychok. Beychok, who won the 2012 National Handicapping Championship by $1, has made a commitment to the care of thoroughbreds once they are done racing. He actually claimed and retired the horse that won the NHC for him and said that, “Ten percent of his 2013 NHC winnings would go to thoroughbred aftercare.”
Groupie Doll won the Female Sprinter award and her co-owner described racing as, “the Sport of Dreams, not the Sport of Kings.”
Trinniberg won the Eclipse Award for Male Spinters. The horse is owned and trained by Shivananda Parbhoo, who brought his family to the USA from Trinidad and Tobago said, “This is unbelievable. All we ever wanted was to win one stakes race.”
Dale Romans won his first Trainer of the Year Award over perennial powerhouse trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher. Romans got 119 votes compared to Pletcher’s 87 and Baffert’s 35.  In 2013 Romans’ horses won over $11.8 millions in purses, so after the ceremony I asked Romans for his top moments from this award-winning year.
He began with Dullahans victory in the Pacific Classic over Game On Dude, “People thought I was crazy sending an out of form three year-old all the way to the west coast to run against older horses.”
Next Romans mentioned the great season of one of his favorite horses Tapitsfly. The four year-old filly won three graded stakes in her four year-old season. 
Third on his list were the amazing victories of Little Mike in the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf. Romans described Little Mike as, “a horse from a no name sire (Spanish Steps) and a throwaway mare (Hay Jude).”
Romans saved his favorite for last and he clearly got the most emotional when he recognized Shackleford’s final victory in front of so many friends and family in the Clark Handicap. He said that that win was “the highlight of my career, nor just the year.”
As Romans went up to the stage to accept his Eclipse I waited for an interesting speech from the charismatic trainer. He may have gotten the biggest response from the audience at this Awards ceremony when he said, “No matter what the New York Times says, this is still the greatest sport.” 


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Older Comments about Sound Bites from the 2013 Eclipse Awards...

Romans sticking it to the NYT just a little, made me smile, as did Pincay's translation joke with the Apprentice Jockey winner ... It was a great evening!

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

• Kentucky Derby 2016 Handicapping Tips from A to Z


• Edison: the Travels of a Million Dollar Colt 

• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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