The Brock Talk

Monday, February 28, 2011

And The Brocktalkscar Goes To...

Certainly nobody thinks that horse racing’s Eclipse Awards are anything in comparison to Hollywood’s Oscars, but one has to wonder what a $30 million production budget and six hours of live network coverage might do for our little party. The organizers for the Eclipse Awards could easily make up some ground - first, by getting Billy Crystal to host next year; and second, adding a few more awards to the show to Hollywood the event up a little bit. So in that spirit, I present to you the Brocktalkscars.

Best Set Design: Charles Cella in the Race for the Ages.
For almost two years, racing fans around the country yearned for west coast queen Zenyatta to race against east coast queen Rachel Alexandra. Before either mare started in 2010, Oaklawn Park president Charles Cella announced that he would increase the purse of the grade 1 Apple Blossom to $5 million if both Rachel and Zenyatta started. What made the offer so intriguing is that is was feasible as both mares had won at Oaklawn and both owners agreed to the concept. As it turned out however, Rachel Alexandra did not show, the purse was only $500,000 and Zenyatta got her 16th consecutive victory. But the stage had been set… and was designed so well.

Choreography: Zenyatta, in The Pre-Race Dance
If there has been a more entertaining, dominating or fascinating pre-race rituals by any other race horse in history, please let me know. Zenyatta would start bowing her neck and kick-stepping her front legs at times before she even arrived in the saddling enclosure. That would continue usually through the post parade after which she would start her side passing (or side rocking), routine with jockey Mike Smith often dangling he legs out of the stirrups. Zenyatta would also at times seem to wait at the starting gate for her challengers to arrive as if to say, “once you step in here, you’re mine.” It was almost as enjoyable as watching her run.

Make Up: The Brock Talk, with Mine That Bird
I spent a good part of last year on this blog making up reasons why I thought Mine That Bird would win his next race. That went over about as well as James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

Best Short Action Film: Calvin Borel in The Little Fighter
Best Short Animated Film: Calvin Borel in The Little Fighter
In one of perhaps the most compelling moments in post-race history, jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano started trading punches with ESPN cameras conducting post race interviews nearby. The two were quickly separated, but Borel remained in an animated cajun rage while relentlessly trying to get at Castellano. Borel was eventually escorted back to the jockeys’ quarters at Churchill Downs by half the jockey colony, a few security guards, agents, friends and whoever else who had become part of the posse.

Costume Design: Looking at Lucky in Kentucky Derby Prep Races
He had everything I tell ya. The looks. The Championship. He had that silver-haired trainer Bob Baffert who won three Kentucky Derbies. And he ran in the silks of Derby winning co-owner Michael Peagram. Those famous yellow and orange silks that remind us of Derby winner Real Quiet. And Lookin at Lucky had a jockey with the nickname “Go Go.” He had everything I tell ya. He looked exactly like a Derby winner.

Best Actor: Quality Road, in The Starting Gate
After impersonating Charlie Sheen before the start of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup in which he nearly destroyed the Santa Anita starting gate and crew, Quality Road went through 2010 like a perfect gentleman. In six starts during the year, Quality Road did not have a single cross look to or from an assistant starter. Quality Road never relapsed after winter starting gate rehab.

Best Actress: Lisa Norwood, in the Life at Ten Investigation
What has it been now? Nearly three months? And Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Lisa Norwood Exec. is still acting like there’s no hurry to find a resolution to the Life at Ten Case.

Best Director: Todd Pletcher, in Kentucky Derby Prep Races
Before the Kentucky Derby last year, trainer Todd Pletcher was loaded. His stable had won the Lexington Stakes, Wood Memorial, Louisiana Derby, Sam F. Davis, Fountain of Youth, and Risen Star Stakes. He eventually saddled five Derby horses of which perhaps his most talented 3-year-old, Eskendereya, was not a part; and a filly, Devil May Care was. While most trainers would envy having that armament, it did come with a ton of pressure (some based on his 0-24 Derby record) and at the very least, a challenge to manage successfully. In the end, Super Saver won the Derby for Pletcher while evicting the proverbial monkey at the same time.

Best Motion Picture: Breeders’ Cup Classic
As difficult as it was for some to accept that Zenyatta had lost, the Breeders’ Cup Classic of 2010 taken by Blame will go down in history as providing as much drama as any stretch run in the sport.

There you have it. The first edition of the Brocktalkscars. And we didn’t even run over into local news.

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