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Eclipse Awards good show for racing fans, Broward tourism


Caught between the spectacle of the college football championship and talk about the push for stadium improvements to remain viable as a Super Bowl host is another event getting overshadowed this week that is enhancing South Florida’s big-event reputation.

The Eclipse Awards are horse racing’s Oscars, and the spotlight is on Broward County for the gala presentation Saturday night at Gulfstream Park as well as related events.

While it won’t match the 30,000 visitors who spent $25 million in Broward for the BCS National Championship, the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood is packed with horse-racing royalty from around the country.

“We’ll have a full house of more than 500 people [for the ceremony]. Many of those individuals are relatively affluent. They’ll be staying two to three days here in the South Florida area and shopping and entertaining themselves here for the next several days,” said Keith Chamblin, senior executive producer of the awards.

Obviously, a welcome post-holiday boost for tourism, but also a rare opportunity for racing fans.

This is the first time the Eclipse Awards, established in 1971, will be presented at a race track, though the event has alternated in recent years between Los Angeles and South Florida venues such as the Fontainebleu.

Staging the event at Gulfstream has provided the opportunity to make the Eclipse Awards more accessible to fans. While the dinner and ceremony in the Sport of Kings Theatre is sold out, the Fans First event is free and open to the public at Gulfstream during the show.

The live broadcast on HRTV will be shown on television monitors throughout the facility and in the paddock walking area. Immediately after receiving their Eclipse Award on stage, the winning connections for each of the 17 human and equine awards will be brought outside the theatre for photos and interviews.

Coverage of the awards show begins at 8 p.m. on HRTV. It can also be seen on Racetrack Television Network (RTN) and DRF.com.

“If you are a fan of these great athletes -- of either the human or equine athletes -- you are going to have a very unique opportunity to be up close and personal with the champions of our sport on Saturday night, and I hope people take advantage of it,” Chamblin said.

“It absolutely is the equivalent of the Academy Awards: It’s the Oscars for thoroughbred racing. If you look at the roster of past recipients, it reads like a who’s who of hall-of-fame members.”

Another new addition this year is a series of events to raise money for four racing-related charities. Fund-raisers included a golf tournament Tuesday at the Westin Diplomat course, as well as Gulfstream hosting a slots tournament Wednesday, a poker tournament Thursday and a reception and auction Friday in the walking ring.

Chamblin said checks will be presented during Saturday’s show to the four charities: Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund, the Gulfstream Thoroughbred Aftercare Program and The Race for Education scholarship program.

“I’m hopeful that on Saturday night we’ll be presenting a big check to the four charities that will have a six-figure amount written on it,” Chamblin said.

The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse and bestowed upon horses and individuals for outstanding achievements in racing in North America. The awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

In addition to the 17 award categories, as a salute to horseplayers the handicapper of the year award will be presented to Michael Beychok, of Baton Rouge, La., who won the 2012 National Handicapping Championship. Beychok, a 49-year-old political consultant, earned the title and $1 million prize by a single dollar in the yearlong series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities, and horse racing and handicapping websites.

The most coveted Eclipse is for Horse of the Year. This year’s nominees are Fort Larned, I'll Have Another, and Wise Dan.

“If we can keep the acceptance speeches to the appropriate length, hopefully we’ll be done and announcing the Horse of the Year around 10:15 p.m.,” Chamblin said.

Here are the 2012 Eclipse Awards finalists, in alphabetical order:

2-Year-Old Male
1. Shanghai Bobby
2. Uncaptured
3. Violence

2-Year-Old Filly
1. Beholder
2. Dreaming of Julia
3. Executiveprivilege

3-Year-Old Male
1. Bodemeister
2. I'll Have Another
3. Union Rags

3-Year-Old Filly
1. Believe You Can
2. My Miss Aurelia
3. Questing

Older Male
1. Fort Larned
2. Little Mike
3. Wise Dan

Older Female
1. Groupie Doll
2. Include Me Out
3. Royal Delta

Male Sprinter
1. The Lumber Guy
2. Shackleford
3. Trinniberg

Female Sprinter
1. Contested
2. Groupie Doll
3. Mizdirection

Male Turf Horse
1. Little Mike
2. Point of Entry
3. Wise Dan

Female Turf Horse
1. Marketing Mix
2. Tapitsfly
3. Zagora

Steeplechase Horse
1. Demonstrative
2. Divine Fortune
3. Pierrot Lunaire

Horse of the Year
1. Fort Larned
2. I'll Have Another
3. Wise Dan

Owner
1. Godolphin Racing
2. Midwest Thoroughbreds
3. Reddam Racing

Breeder
1. Adena Springs
2. Darley
3. Brereton C. Jones

Trainer
1. Bob Baffert
2. Todd Pletcher
3. Dale Romans

Jockey
1. Javier Castellano
2. Ramon Dominguez
3. John Velazquez

Apprentice Jockey
1. Jose Montano
2. Irad Ortiz, Jr.
3. Angel Suarez

Categories: horse racing (2)


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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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