Baltimore has produced some of our country's icons, from the world of fiction (Edgar Allen Poe) to entertainment (musician Frank Zappa) to sports (a bevy of stars, beginning with the great Babe Ruth and continuing to the modern-day Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps) and politics (Spiro T. Agnew).
What do all these Baltimoreans have in common? These natives or one-time residents live on through the first (and perhaps last) annual Paulick Report Raybie Awards, given to individuals and organizations for their outstanding (or, in some cases, not so outstanding) achievement at this's year Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown, held at Old Hilltop, Pimlico racecourse in Baltimore.
So with congratulations or apologies in advance to the namesakes and the recipients, here are the 2011 Raybie Award winners:
Cal Ripken Iron Man Award – Nick Zito, for saddling his 21st Preakness starter in the last 21 years. Unfortunately for the Hall of Fame conditioner, Dialed In was his 20th Preakness also-ran, his only winner coming in 1996 with longshot Louis Quatorze.
Trent Dilfer Overachiever Award – Jesus Castanon, riding in only his second Triple Crown race ever (his first was in this year's Kentucky Derby) at the age of 38, delivered a perfectly timed ride aboard Shackleford to get the Preakness victory. As Shackleford's trainer, Dale Romans, said, Castanon is like a critically acclaimed movie that was never a hit. Dilfer, of course, rose from relative obscurity to guide the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in the 2000-01 season.
Frank Zappa Mother of Invention Award – Maryland Jockey Club and Elevation Ltd, the advertising agency that came up with Kegasus, the manimal spokesman who ruled as the “Lord of the InfieldFest” on Preakness day. After cutting off carry-in alcohol two years ago, the MJC had to come up with something creative to get their infield mojo back, and with Kegasus, they did.
Bob Irsay Turncoat Award – Ahmed Zayat for dropping out of the Preakness with Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro. OK, so when Irsay moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis, he had the moving vans packed up in the wee hours of the morning and was a belligerent jerk. Zayat said he made his decision in the best interest of his horse, but still …
Jim McKay Thrill of Victory/Agony of Defeat Award – Animal Kingdom's trainer, Graham Motion, would have made the late Maryland horseman and TV legend McKay very proud with the way he conducted himself after his Kentucky Derby victory and Preakness defeat — with class throughout.
Garry Moore What's My Line Award – Frank Carulli, the linemaker and television host for the Maryland Jockey Club, is as sharp as they come when setting the morning line for a big race. He nailed the Preakness line again this year in his prediction for how the public would bet the race. Heck, I even think he may go to the same barber where Moore, the longtime game show host, went for his patented flat-top.
Edgar Allan Poe Mystery Award – After Animal Kingdom got a picture-perfect trip, rallying from mid-pack in the Kentucky Derby, no one expected the son of Leroidesanimaux to be lumbering along in Dialed In's area code at the back of the Preakness field, but that's where he and John Velazquez wound up. The first sixteenth of a mile is probably where Animal Kingdom lost the Preakness.
Pat Sajak Wheel of Fortune Award – Michael Lauffer, the co-owner of Shackleford, must really like the Preakness. It was two years ago when he and co-owner Dolphus Morrison sold Rachel Alexandra for $10 million to Jess Jackson, following her smashing victory in the Kentucky Oaks so Jackson could run her in the Preakness. This year, Lauffer and co-owner Bill Cubbedge won an extra $500,000 from Shackleford's victory as part of the Preakness 5.5 participation bonus.
Michael Phelps “What Was He Smoking?” Award – I know, I know. Those of us who live in crack houses shouldn't throw bongs, but we do have to wonder what trainer Bob Baffert saw in Midnight Interlude's Kentucky Derby performance that led him to believe the War Chant colt could improve in the Preakness. Oh, wait, he did improve — from 16th to 13th. On second thought, with five Preakness wins from only 12 starts, maybe Baffert does know what he's doing. And Baffert did serve as a great host at Saturday's Preakness for Phelps and his girlfriend, Miss California USA Nicole Johnson.
Tupac Shakur Lyrical Gangsta Award – Paulick Report friend and KentuckyConfidential.com creator John Scheinman's unforgettable cross examination of Kegasus included the subtle questioning of whether this Centaurian stud ever “did” Shakespeare in the Park. Click here to see video for details.
Spiro T. Agnew Nattering Nabobs of Negativism Award – William C. Rhoden, sports columnist for the New York Times, for choosing Preakness Day to write his annual “Why I hate horse racing” column. The former Maryland governor and late vice president who resigned in disgrace during the Nixon administration might have even called Rhoden an “effete snob” for his “pusillanimous pussyfooting.”
Johnny Unitas Humility Award – What's not to like about Dale Romans? After winning the Preakness, he gave credit to his late father, to his hotwalkers, to jockey Castanon, to his assistant trainers, to his wife Tammy, to the Webb Carroll training center that broke Shackleford…to anyone but himself. “Lord knows, 25 years ago nobody thought I'd sit up here and talk about a Classic race,” Romans said. Just like Johnny U. was the star of the Colts for many years, Romans is calling the right shots for this successful team.
Babe Ruth Home Run Award – D. Wayne Lukas, the five-time Preakness winner, didn't have a horse in the race this year, and as he was going over his superfecta ticket, we asked the Hall of Famer who he liked. Lukas proceeded to tick off the names of six horses: Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, Astrology, Dialed In, Dance City, and Mucho Macho Man, the first six finishers in the Preakness. Sure hope he had the super high five that paid $49,743. He hit this year's Preakness out of the park.
Mike Rowe “Dirty Jobs” Award – To the outstanding hospitality of the press box dining crew for diplomatically doling out Maryland crab cakes to the whiny press corps (for what it's worth, Brad had two).
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