One of the biggest complaints about racing is that its superstars leave competition too soon. Six people have done something to address that situation - Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables, Jerry and Ann Moss, and brothers Alain Gerard Wertheimer. To say thank you, the Thoroughbred industry in this country needs to give each and every one of them Special Eclipse Awards.
They've kept four wonderful horses in training long after most people would have sent them to the breeding shed. In the process, they made the sport much more exciting for fans and maybe won racing some new ones even though not every runner's story had a fairytale ending.
Jackson and Banke sent Curlin after a second Horse of the Year in title in 2008 and succeeded. With another Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, the plan didn't work out. She never flashed the brilliance this year that she had shown in 2009, but more people got a chance to see her in person and she added more drama to several racing cards. She was still a competitive runner, right to the end.
The Mosses' gift to racing was Zenyatta's 2010 campaign and the mare just kept on giving. They may not get the Horse of the Year title they wanted and there is now a blemish on Zenyatta's once perfect record, but her quest to win a second Breeders' Cup Classic was riveting and got racing coverage places where it usually is ignored. "60 Minutes" ran a segment on the mare and People magazine's website carried a story about her quest prior to the Breeders' Cup.
The Wertheimers returned Goldikova to America to seek an unprecedented third triumph in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) and she succeeded with a flourish. Soon afterward, the brothers announced that she would try to add a fourth in 2011. If she makes it to the big day, she'll create another big buzz that will further enhance one of the sport's most important competitions.
Jess and Barbara, Jerry and Ann, and Alain and Gerard, you have done more for racing than anyone else lately that I can think of. You deserve everyone's gratitude and some extra Eclipse Award hardware for your trophy cases.