Loud and clear

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I have so many unanswered questions after Saturday night’s 42nd annual Eclipse Awards dinner, held in the Sport of Kings theater at Gulfstream Park in South Florida.
 
Such as …
 
What did emcee Jeannine Edwards say during her monologue to open the show?
 
What did Wise Dan’s owner and breeder Morton Fink say when he accepted the golden Eclipse statue for Horse of the Year at the end of the night?
 
What did everyone else say in between?

I was one of the unfortunate ones on the side of the room who had a very good view of the stage where Eclipse Awards were handed out to Thoroughbred racing’s equine and human champions. For most of the evening we were unable to hear a thing.
 
I’m told Laffit Pincay Jr., the retired jockey, had one of the best lines of the night when he translated for the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice, Jose Montano. And it appeared another retired Hall of Fame rider, Jerry Bailey, apparently said something funny when he stood on a chair alongside 6’ 10” Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis to give out a couple of awards. I heard Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans utter the words “New York Times,” but can only guess what he said about the newspaper that exposed the underbelly of our sport on numerous occasions during the past year.

The sad fact is the only time I could hear most of what was said was when retired Keeneland president Nick Nicholson accepted his Award of Merit to a standing ovation from the sold-out audience. I think Nick had been warned that the sound system wasn’t very good, and throughout his long and distinguished career he’s given countless speeches before Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs and Boy Scout Troops where someone forgot to do that “testing…one, two, three” thing beforehand. It’s clear that happened at this event, even though so much hard work and creativity by executives and staff of the Stronach Group went into making the Eclipse Awards a week-long celebration of the Thoroughbred.
 
Nicholson spoke slowly and directly into the microphone, projecting not only a booming voice but a confidence that great days lie ahead for the Thoroughbred racing and industry when it works together.
 
And if that was the only message I was able to take home with me from this year’s Eclipse Awards dinner, then that’s OK.
 
I just hope everyone else heard that part, too.

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  • Kim

    Oh, Ray, you didn’t miss anything in the opening monologue.   It was really, REALLY bad. 

  • Nucky Thompson

    Unfortunately Ray the  massive worldwide tv audeince did hear the opening monologue. On a serious note isnt it about time the two racing channels showed nore of their programs in High Definition.  Last night it was like watching someone’s grainy home movie. Only HD could have done full justice to the Larry Colmus outfit.

  • Burton DeWitt

    Ray, to make you feel better, I couldn’t hear anything at my own college graduation. They had the speakers set up so far back that the first three or four rows couldn’t hear a thing.

  • Bill Steele

    As usual a subpar event. Jerry Bailey made a fool of himself standing on a chair with his basketball co-host looking very uncomfortable.

  • Nancy

    I am sorry that you could not hear the ceremony. In addition to being a huge horse racing fan, I am also a sound engineer (http://www.linkedin.com/in/nan… and have worked on many events. From what you have posted, this sounds like a problem with the hotel’s in-house (or subcontracted) A/V department, and not the broadcast feed, since I was listening to the webcast. Most of us in the A/V and broadcast industry take pride in our work and take it very seriously. Without our clients, we have no business. I will pass this on to to the professionals in my industry. Perhaps someone will take notice and take measures to prevent this from happening again.

  • ronawsumb

    Whoever selected the young lady who was handing out the trophies, gets a gold star from me this morning.

  • Bymany

    Hey, I couldn’t hear anything at my college graduation either.  But that was about a 12 pack into the festivities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.paulson1 Ashley Gay

    That was the first time I had watch the show,and all I can badddddddd.

  • Realestate

    Ray, The Eclipse Awards should be broadcast on a channel or multiple channels where the rest of the country can watch if they want to. Being in Del Mar and currently on Time Warner cable I do not get HRTV. They wonder why our audience is diminishing. I’m sorry Stronach but you get in your own damn way promoting the sport!

  • LongTimeEconomist

    Pass it on to Gulfstream management too.

  • David Hayden

    One small suggestion to make the awards presentations go more smoothly and much quicker – seat all of the nominees in forward tables so we don’t need to see them wonder through the crowd for a minute and a half > 

  • nu-fan

    Ashley: I watched a little bit of it but got bored out of my mind and switched channels.  Wasn’t going to commit the entire time that it was being telecast.  Saved it to my DVR so that I can race through it today. It probably meant more to those in the horseracing industry than to the fans, such as myself.  At least, I hope that it meant a lot to those in the industry.  It must be wonderful to be recognized by your own peers.

  • Mike Delaney

    Ray, Instead of using your post to comment on the ceremonial part of the presentations, maybe you should continue focusing more on merits of the awards.  After reviewing the voting tallies, it almost appears that the voters all sat down in one place at the same time and copied each others’ ballots.  How can knowledgeable sports writers and others be so together in their opinions.  While initially being in some disagreement with the the New York Times’ recent portrayal of racing’s problems, at least their editorials and stories reflect substantive in-depth investigative reporting. I’ve been investigating Thoroughbred racing for thirty years and recently retired, realizing that live racing will never return to anything close to your vision of its glory years of the 1970′s and 80′s. How can someone like Dale Romans possibly be 117 votes better than Bill Mott, or any number of other integrity-driven horsemen out there. I’m ashamed of the industry I’ve been part of all these years with the downgrading of security in every facet except the flow of money through the parimutuel systems. Why won’t our industry officials, insiders and upper managers admit the real problems and get rid of the renegades. Maybe the directors will create another Eclipse award called “Veterinarian of the Year”.

  • MA

    This production’s always had bad audio, and not many should’ve expected HRTV to improve on that. Their entire channel’s audio is unreliable, not to mention the fuzzy visuals.

  • jmem

    There were some highlights folks, including the horses and some passionate people.  There is SOOO much that could be done with this to make it compelling and worthy.

    Stop playing to the local audience.  Capture some in-house drama as recipients wait.  Use big time production people.  Show some whole races that were thrilling and meaningful. The recipients need to know they are on national (small time) TV and will make a fool of themselves if they haven’t prepared.  Offer a prep by a PR person or something.   Have Jim Rome present something (!)   Use the real talent in the industry experienced with Media events.   Who cares who the Miami heat are?   Do it over the Christmas holidays when the events of 2012 are still under review.  Get some real sponsors – not Gerber baby insurance!

    lots more…

  • Jerry R

    What the show needs is someone who might be familiar with Broadcast Production. Yes it takes forever for the winners to get to the stage but how about some music while they’re making the walk..what a concept. And maybe a writer who understands what comedy is..some of the lines were more than cringe worthy….from the open to the close it was Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour. And next year get Laffit(the younger)to host it…He is a pro and he gets it!!

  • Roisin

    Why am I not surprised !!

  • Victoria Jensen

    Jeannine Edwards was terrible. I should’ve just turned off the TV when she started out w/ the lame digs at Dr Hansen & her blue ribbon in her hair.  Why do MC’s always think they have to be funny? (because she’s NOT)  And she bounced out at least twice announcing they were x minutes ahead of schedule, like it was something to get through & over with asap.  Painful to watch.  I vote for Laffitt Pincay to host next year. 

  • Sandra Warren

    I’m bummed for you, Ray.  Having watched the non-spectacle for several years on TVG, I had concluded that the Eclipse Awards is one of those events that you just have to be there to enjoy.  It did not translate at all to a broadcast.  Now apparently even those present were excluded from any enjoyment.

    It just so happens that I used to have a friend (he’s passed away now) who attended several Eclipse programs when John Forsyth was always the emcee.  He said they were fantastic.  With all due respect to the latest emcees who have had to deal with a crowd which refuses to engage, I wonder if there aren’t a few changes that culd be done to recapture former glory.

    I do like the idea of moving the venue around a little.  That might bring in a few locals who are actually happy to be there.

  • Backtowar1

    It was on HRTV.com

  • HappyHarriet

    Ray – Last year, when the Paulick Report streamed the feed on your site, and we commented on the same page, it was easier to be a part of the flow with others.  I hope you can return to that format again in the future.

    As to this year’s event – it would be better to hold it in a barn than to rent a big fancy hotel ballroom and then have the audio and video so dreadfully amateurish that it spoils the whole thing.  With all the money spent on horses, trainers, and track upkeep, you mean to tell me that for a two hour production these folks can’t afford REAL PROFESSIONALS? 

    An awards ceremony is a means to PROMOTE YOUR PROFESSION, but this looked so sad it only promoted the idea that horse racing is a down and out has been idea and best laid to rest at the earliest opportunity.

    I cannot believe that this industry refuses to recognize the need for excellence when staging this event.  Where’s Gene Simmons when you need him?  He, for one, would have put on one hell of a show, and trust me, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HEAR EVERY WHISPER.

  • nancy

    Let’s hope Gene fixes Santa Anita’s sound system, since he’s promoting SA. You couldn’t even hear the National Anthem (or Tony Bennett) on the big screens at BC 2012. He doesn’t know a thing about horse-racing, but he DOES know sound.

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