Hank Aaron hits number 715…Secretariat wins the Belmont by 31 lengths…Brett Favre starts 269 games in a row at QB…and now Ray Paulick liveblogs from the Eclipse Awards without a computer! That's right, Ray will be entering the pantheon of the unlikely as he attempts to bring you the Paulick Report reader unprecedented coverage of tonight's awards ceremony. We will be operating here at Paulick Report Command Central giving the play by play results of tonight's event while Ray will be the color commentary via text message.
What are the stars wearing? (We knew Larry Jones would be in his black-tie cowboy get-up, but were taken aback by the Scottish fellow in kilts standing nearby — pictured below.) How many people are sporting Zenyatta for President T-shirts? How many licks does it take to get to the candy center of a Tootsie-Pop? These and other questions will be answered below. Enjoy and keep the comments flowing!
6:56CC…Alright folks, Brad here at Command Central. I will be receiving messages from Ray throughout the night and keeping up to date with the things you won't be privy to on the telecast. My comments will have a CC for Command Central after the time and the ones from Ray will have a RP after the time.
6:58RP…closest thing to a celebrity I've met so far is former WI Gov. Tommy Thompson, who has been hired by the NTRA to oversee the health and safety alliance. Tommy seemed happy to hear that I grew up on the Illinois side of the Wisconsin border.
7:00CC…and the telecst begins. Something about Frank Sinatra and a cocktail party.
7:01RP…Many of the guests were lamenting the passing of Joe Hirsch, the longtime executive columnist of the DRF. The PR learned that NYRA is preparing a memorial for Hirsch the week of the Belmont Stakes in June.
7:04CC…Interviewing Jerry and Ann Moss, they ask if they think Zenyatta could pull Horse of the Year. Gives a solid if not predictable answer.
7:05RP…Good line from Cot Campbell during the blustery cocktail hour outside of the Fountainbleu Hotel. “My hair's getting all messed up,” Campbell said patting down his gray locks. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the shiny pate of Mike Smith and commented, “Mike's in pretty good shape with the wind.”
7:06CC…Who thinks Eight Belles should win 3 year old filly? I'm a Proud Spell guy myself.
7:07CC…Iavarone looks shiny. And the interviewer mispronounced his name. Thinks that it's the competition was so strong and that's the reason Big Brown isn't going to win the HOY award. Either that or maybe it's because he finished last in the Belmont and bowed out of the BC Classic.
7:10CC…Frank Stronach isn't there. Wonder why?
7:15CC…Asmussen being interviewed. Sure, it's good to hear from him but I wonder what his facial hair has to say. And he looked a little scary on screen. Just saying.
7:16CC…announcer just made an interesting observation. Asmussen has more wins than Dutrow and Frankel combined.
7:19CC…I don't know about you but nothing is more interesting than insurance talk…
7:20RP…Dinner is served! Ceremonies starting soon.
7:22CC…just pushed the new Jockeys show on Animal Planet. Said it was The Hills or Real Housewives of Orange County only with jockeys. Decided jockeys have more drama. Scandalous!
7:24RP…Jess Jackson is here with a new look…a nifty goatee. (Only two bodyguards according to an associate. I don't have a count yet on the number of bodyguards for Iavarone of IEAH…see earlier post on Eclipse predictions for further explanation)
7:26CC…NTRA Moment of the Year of course is Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup. Sounded like six people clapped for the clip.
7:28CC…TWO MINUTES TO POST!!!
7:29CC…Darby Dan with a big ad buy during the break. I hear there's a website that's much cheaper than what TVG charges…
7:30CC…Privman starts off the ceremony with a Joe Hirsch memorial.
7:33CC…Faith, I'm efforting a response on your important request…
7:33RP…Nice touch to dedicate the awards to Joe Hirsch. There are several hundred folks here tonight and I'd be hard pressed to find one person who didn't love Joe.
7:35RP…(FAITH UPDATE) The vine ripened tomato salad was excellent, the seared tenderloin tender (tho a bit overcooked) and the roast garlic shrimp outstanding. I could have used a bit more of the curried sweet potatoes, but I did just squeeze into my tux pants.
7:37RP…Kenny Rice don't give up your day job to become a stand up comic
7:38CC…and our first technical glitch of the evening!
7:39CC…first (non) surprise of the night, Midshipman wins 2 year old male
7:40RP…more food update…Kendall-Jackson wine is being served to all (whether or not they supported Curlin)
7:41RP…A dinner companion staying at the Fountainbleu rated the dinner “four stars” compared to other restaurants at the hotel
7:42CC…and now 2 year filly goes to…
7:44RP…Even though IEAH now owns Stardom Bound, the award was rightly given to Charles Cono. Fifteen years ago when Kotashaan won HOY, the Eclipse wasn't given to his longtime owners, the Werthemer brothers, but to the Japanese stud farm that bought him to run in his final start, the Japan cup. They got it right this time.
7:47RP…Bob Baffert isn't at the awards. Times are tough. He tells me he can't afford to fly his family from LA. Guess Baffert doesn't get those Southwest Airlines special fare emails.
7:50CC…John and Brad Henegan from First Saturday in May accept the award they already got.
7:51RP…From one of the Hennegan brothers the first ever Eclipse award shout out to Payless Shoes.
7:54CC…Did you know that WAVE 3 TV won a media Eclipse Award? You did? Oh, I must have slept in that day.
7:54RP…They need more journalism awards…you think? That's my favorite part of the Academy Awards…best movie review!
7:56RP…The podium reminds me of a Barack Obama press conference when several women advisers were introduced to the media and only the top of their heads showed. Same with the jockeys and Jennie Rees of Courier Journal
7:58CC…the photog award is so embarassing with that misspelled background. Junenile…unreal
8:00CC…Vinnie Perrone just asked for a step stool. No, actually, he demanded one and asked “what kind of operation are you running here?”
8:01CC…and this is why
8:03RP…Anyone remember the Grammys when the band started playing because Sinatra went on too long…Sinatra!!!
8:04CC…And he's finally finished. Four minutes later. Did anyone not tell him to keep it pithy? I mean, he seems like a nice guy, but honestly everyone is here for things besides Vinnie's award.
8:07CC…Kenny Rice just bombed like three jokes in a row. Literally no response from the crowd. Love it!
8:09CC…Oooh! An award I'm not 100% sure of the outcome on! Male Turf
8:10CC…The winner is Conduit.
8:11CC…More importantly, this just came in from Ray. Dessert!
8:13CC…Female Turf goes to…
8:15RP…George Strawbridge defines grace and class. He gave a very elegant acceptance on behalf of Forever Together.
8:15CC…If you are watching both the TVG telecast and this blog, apparently Ray is in the future. That's why he already knew about Strawbridge's speech.
8:17CC…Apparently Ray was still hungry
8:18RP…Dessert was outstanding…my first roast hazelnut praline, chocolate terrine, coconut bavaroise
8:19CC…Standing ovation for Alice Headley Chandler
8:19RP…Tommy Thompson left his table…I think the media awards got to him
8:20CC…Hopefully Alice will run into Vinnie Perrone in the hallway and talk to him about speech length. That was a perfect acceptance speech.
8:22RP…Weird observation…some people who are seated near the stage are watching the large screen monitor instead. Kind of like the racetrack where we watch the TVinstead of the horses in front of us.
8:23CC…Steeplechase winner Good Night Shirt
8:25RP…Steeplechase owner..time's up. Where's the band when you need them? Hostage taker.
8:28RP…Although the acceptance was about as long as a jump race.
8:29CC…And now for Breeder, Adena Springs, Stonerside and WinStar
8:30CC…Adena Springs wins News at 11
8:31RP…Barbara…I saw Steve Asmussen up close and personal and I found him not the least bit scary looking. But he did growl at me
8:32RP…And I did eat the holy cross on the dessert. Yum!
8:32RP…Love the lecture from the handicapper of the year. He's really good.
8:33RP…Random thought. Chantal Sutherland is mesmerizing Here she is, sitting with Mike Smith while no doubt catching up on my live blog!
8:35RP…I think Steven Crist wishes he had a hook to yank the handicapper off stage
8:37RP…Now I wish I had a hook for this guy. I take my earlier comments back.
8:39CC…and still going….
8:41CC…like the Energizer Bunny. Seriously.
8:43RP…Dayyam. I missed the Conduit wardrobe malfunction. Had my head down thumbing away
8:44RP…What's with the Joan Rivers remark? No facelifts for me.
8:45RP…The vets do a great job with the on call program but they are making me feel like I'm at a funeral service. How about a little joke fellas?
8:48RP…Rep Cardoza…pandering for votes and political contributions.
8:53CC…and Benny the Bull wins Male sprinter
8:49RP…Wow…Michael Iavarone is redder faced than me after I spent five hours on the beach
8:51RP…Good news from Iavarone that Benny the Bull will race in 2009…
8:56CC…And now Female Sprinter…
8:57CC…Indian Blessing. I love this horse
9:00RP…I doubt many trainers worked harder than Steve Asmussen in 2008. It really was a remarkable year he had. And he's got the cutest family in the room…hands down.
9:01CC…For those of you watching on TVG, Ray is quite a bit ahead of us (tape delay). If you don't want to know before the telecast, look elsewhere.
9:03CC…Which is why you already knew that Asmussen won the award. Barbara, thanks. I was starting to feel sorry for myself. Hopefully Asmussen and Iavarone know it was all in fun!
9:05CC…Well, apparently Stonach won for owner.
9:06RP…I wonder how many racing secretaries that work for Frank Stronach voted for him as leading owner and breeder. I'd imagine they might be more inclined to vote against him.
9:07RP I also wonder how many Breeders' Cup employees vote and how they voted? Seems they have a vested interest.
9:08RP…Racing secretaries and Breeders' Cup employees have been part of the NTRA voting members.
9:10RP…and Zenyatta wins. Jerry Moss couldn't drag trainer John Shirreffs on stage to help him accept Zenyatta's Eclipse Award.
9:11RP…Moss is the west coast version of George Strawbridge…full of class, extremely articulate and one of the game's very best. Wish we had more like both of them.
9:13CC…Curlin wins older male. in related news, grass is green and the sky is blue.
9:15RP…Good comment by Jess Jackson saying that older horses can race and also make good sires.
9:16CC…Turk, I'm with you. Why wait when you can hear it from Ray first.
9:17RP…His comment about the industry's movement to eliminate drugs and become more transparent was well received.
9:18RP…”Keep the horse first, and the horse will take care of you.” Well said Jess Jackson
9:19CC…Time for a photo. The Jackson clan.
9:21RP…Curlin wrote a note saying he liked racing but likes his new job even better.
9:22RP…Jerry Moss gets a do-over to thank Mike Smith..this could be a first. Told you he was a class act.
9:23RP…I wonder if Mike stormed off. (Just kidding…there isn't a more humble guy in the jockey's room)
9:24CC…Apprentice jockey coming up soon.
9:27CC…Faith, I thought he sent it in Horse Code. (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist)
9:28RP…Winner is Paco Lopez
9:29RP…Someone wrote to say Jess Jackson looks like Don Rickles. That's not nice you hockey puck!
9:31CC…And now for outstanding jockey, the Eclipse goes to Garrett Gomez.
9:32RP…Garrett Gomez is one tough dude. I said his smile looked pretty good before dinner and he said all his front teeth were temps. Lost em in an ugly spill and he still has a knot on his hand from that spill. To think he was back in the saddle a few days later.
9:34CC…3 year old male goes to…Big Brown
9:35RP…Cash Asmussen presenting with Todd Schrupp of TVG. Hard to believe Cash was a jockey all those years. So tall.
9:36RP…Interesting comment from Anne Campbell about Michael Iavarone. “He looks like Jerry Lewis (a young Jerry Lewis).”
9:39RP…Schrupp gave a very nice tribute to Larry Jones before introducing the 3 year old filly finalists. Second standing ovation of the night.
9:40RP…It was to thank him for facing the media so tirelessly after the death of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby. Well done.
9:41RP…But Proud Spell won
9:42RP…Second politicians of the night at the podium, former KY Gov Brereton Jones owner and breeder of Proud Spell. Jones says organizers can forget about the one minute rule for acceptance speeches, acknowledging his political past.
9:44CC…picture time again, featuring the Iavarone party
9:46RP…Jones acknowledged the many great trainers in the room but said no one was greater than Larry Jones, who also trained Proud Spell.
9:47RP…Horse of the Year next…
9:48RP…Alex Waldrop to present Horse of the Year.
9:49RP…Alex said someone in the room was live blogging…”so be careful what you say.” Wonder who he's talking about…
9:50RP…And the winner is…CURLIN!!!
9:51RP…Jess Jackson high fives the table.
9:52RP…Jerry Moss picks up his wine glass raises in the air and thanks John Shirrefs for a great year
9:53RP…The other two nominees were Zenyatta and Big Brown
9:55CC…And the Horse of the Year picture
9:56RP…Jess Jackson says Curlin still wants to run…but will enjoy his new job
10:04RP…After the awards closed Brereton Jones said he was more nervous accepting the award than he had ever been giving any political speech. I guess that sums up what the Eclipse Awards mean to horse people.
10:05RP…Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to our hosts, Cot and Anne Campbell of Dogwood Stable and to the dinner companions I wasn't able to spend enough time talking with.
That's it from Miami Beach…
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