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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