The PR paid off.
On Monday, Curlin was named the Eclipse Award Horse of the Year for the second year in a row.
No doubt he was aided by parades, gifts of specially-labeled wine (pictured), his owner’s never-ending praise, and the excuse that Curlin lost the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic because of a “false surface.”
The Curlin wine was sent just in time for Eclipse Award voting season with a DVD and card “signed” by owners Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke. Jackson is owner of the Kendall-Jackson winery, thus the choice of gift.
One category that wasn’t debated as much but really stands out to me is the Jockey category. Garrett Gomez, 210 votes, to Rafael Bejarano’s 11 votes!? Bejarano’s sweep of all five riding titles in the Southern California racing schedule is a rare feat. He also had more wins, places, and shows than “Go-Go.” Every meet that Bejarano and Gomez rode against each other, “Raffy” came out on top. Though Gomez had more earnings, I can’t help but feel that the bias towards Breeders’ Cup winners propelled Gomez to such a runaway win, especially from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) voting bloc, which includes Breeders’ Cup Ltd. He won four out of 14 races and the Shoemaker Award for outstanding jockey of the event.
For a different look at the Eclipse Awards, I recommend Ray Paulick’s live blog.