The Eclipse Awards and This Week at Fair Grounds
One of the most anticipated days of the season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots is coming up...Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone (which, by the way, I have heard is a great place to stay, located in the heart of the French Quarter), the highlight of a busy week here. This weekend will be full of stakes races, talented horses, and beautiful people. Before we take a look at the festivities right around the turn, let's recap Monday night's awards...The 40th Annual Eclipse Awards. It turned out to be quite a night for owners, breeders, trainers, and riders. A few of my favorite moments of the awards ceremony:
-Big Drama winning the award for male sprinter! Well deserved and could we see another nomination in 2011 after a record-setting performance at Gulfstream last week?
-The owner of Uncle Mo (Best Two-year-old Male) accepting the award and even though the speech was long-winded, it was one of the most heartfelt speeches of the night.
-Dubai Majesty grabbing the Best Female Sprinter category, trained by Bret Calhoun, who won two Breeders' Cup races in 2010 between this award-winner and Chamberlain Bridge. He is a local favorite down in the Big Easy since he trains here all meet.
-Jockey Ramon Dominguez was finally recognized for Best Jockey, which was long overdue and one of my favorite results of the night.
-And how about owner Marylou Whitney, one of most influential and prominent figures in horse racing, showing she is still full of life at the age of 85 as she gave an inspirational speech while accepting the Eclipse Award of Merit? She is one class act!
-Goldikova, who is one of my all-time favorite horses, did not win the Horse of the Year (HOY) award, as she was nominated, but she takes hold of the Turf Female category back-to-back. Plus, trainer Todd Pletcher announced she will be back to run again this year! (Todd Pletcher accepted the award on behalf of the European connections who could not make the trip for the awards ceremony. Freddy Head is Goldikova's trainer) How exciting it will be to see her in action again...fourth Breeders' Cup win on the turf? Hope so!
-Blame, who beat Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup, also did not get the HOY award, but did win the Best Older Male award which was accepted by owner/ breeder Adele B. Dilschneider, who had the best speech of the night!
-Finally Zenyatta won HOY, which I say it's about time! Owners Jerry and Ann Moss were in tears as they accepted the award with an emotional speech. To be honest, all I was waiting to hear was who she was going to "hook up" with first at Lane's End Farm, but there was no hint in between the emotional words of Jerry Moss. All we can do it wait...
Overall, it was a great night for horse racing as we were able to witness the best of the best all in one room. Congrats to all the nominees and winners!
Let's see if we can pick out a potential 2011 nominee in the 3-year-old category as Fair Grounds hosts the first of three Road to the Derby races restricted to sophomores, the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, which will be race 10 of the 13-race card this Saturday, January 22. To celebrate one of the biggest race days of the meet, we have many activities to enjoy throughout the weekend. Just click on the link below to get a list of events for January 20th thru 24th.
This week's events...
Trainers and Jockeys who have been hot the last week of racing:
-Trainer Ronny Werner won a handful of races (5 total) last week and is one to watch as he has been debuting many horses for the first time during this meet.
-Trainer Tom Amoss consistently winning races since the new year began!
-Veteran jockey Kerwin "Boo Boo" Clark picking up steam on the racetrack riding three winners in one day.
-Jockeys Miguel Mena and Rosie Napravnik have been hot since the meet started as we near the middle of the meet.
All in all it turned out to be a great week at the races despite canceling one day of the race week last Thursday due to cold temperatures, which I thought I had left behind up north. But since we did experience below freezing temps there were "rock like" chunks of dirt on the track, which made it too dangerous for the horses and riders. Great call by the stewards and made my job easier to handicap for this coming Thursday's card since we saw many of canceled races redrawn for Thursday, which starts another exciting week!
See everyone at the races!
Katie Mikolay, Fair Grounds Racing Analyst