The recovery of Paynter from deadly battles with laminitis and colitis following his victory in the 2012 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park has been voted by fans the 2012 National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Moment of the Year. The connections of Paynter will be honored with the “NTRA Moment of the Year” award at the 42nd annual Eclipse Awards, presented by Daily Racing Form, The Stronach Group and Breeders' Cup Saturday, January 19, at Gulfstream Park Racetrack and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Paynter has been returned to trainer Bob Baffert and is currently at Santa Anita Park, preparing for a 2013 campaign.
This year's balloting was conducted at the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and offered voters 12 different images illustrating a wide range of human emotions as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. Finishing second was I'll Have Another's narrow victory over Bodemeister in the Preakness Stakes. The images and events that fans chose from, with percentage of votes they received in parentheses, were:
- Rosie Napravnik becomes the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, guiding Believe You Can to victory (5%)
- I'll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez pull the upset from post 19 in the Kentucky Derby (10%)
- I'll Have Another runs down Bodemeister to win the Preakness by a neck (13%)
- On the eve of a highly anticipated Triple Crown bid, I'll Have Another is scratched from the Belmont Stakes (7%)
- For the first time since 1874, the Travers ends in a dead heat as Alpha and Golden Ticket hit the wire together (7%)
- Haskell winner Paynter overcomes deadly battles with laminitis and colitis and begins rehab for a possible 2013 campaign (27%)
- For the second straight year, Royal Delta wins the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith, who registers his record 16th Breeders' Cup riding win (4%)
- Groupie Doll trounces her opponents in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (1%)
- Shanghai Bobby digs in under Rosie Napravnik to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and remain undefeated (4%)
- Wise Dan breaks the course record in capturing the Breeders' Cup Mile over an international field (5%)
- Fort Larned holds off Mucho Macho Man to take the Breeders' Cup Classic (6%)
- Shackleford ends his career on a winning note in the Clark Handicap (11%)
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene involving Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The following year's winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant's Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone's upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex's spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes. Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro's gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was Rags to Riches' historic victory over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta's win in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 when fans selected her triumph in the Breeders' Cup Classic. In 2010, the Breeders' Cup Classic again supplied the stage as Blame held off the furious stretch drive of Zenyatta. The winning 2011 Moment once more occurred in the Breeders' Cup Classic when Drosselmeyer capped off a brilliant weekend for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith.
“The NTRA Moment of the Year award is one of an increasing number of ways for fans to engage in the Eclipse Awards festivities,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president. “Paynter's gallant struggle with laminitis and colitis inspired fans all across North America, and we are delighted to salute his triumph over those challenges as the latest NTRA Moment of the Year.”
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