LEXINGTON, Ky. (Tuesday, December 16, 2014) – Voting is now underway via the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) website, www.ntra.com, for the 16th annual NTRA Moment of the Year. Fans can choose from among 10 of the year’s most memorable, moving and significant events in Thoroughbred racing. The winning moment will be revealed the morning of January 16 at the annual ThoroFan Awards Breakfast at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and recognized at the following evening’s 44th Annual Eclipse Awards, also at Gulfstream Park.
Those that vote for the eventual winner automatically will be entered in a random drawing to win a $100 gift certificate for Breeders’ Cup merchandise.
To vote for the “NTRA Moment of the Year,” visit ntra.formstack.com/forms/ntra_moment_of_the_year.
The eligible moments were selected to illustrate a wide range of human emotions and achievements as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. Listed chronologically, the events that fans can choose from are:
· Seven-year-old gelding Game On Dude wins the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap by 1¾ lengths, becoming the first three-time winner in the Big ‘Cap’s rich 77-year history. (occurred March 8)
· With his victory aboard We Miss Artie in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez becomes the first North American rider to surpass $300 million in career earnings. (March 22)
· California Chrome wins the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in front of a crowd of 164,906, second-largest in Derby history. He becomes the first horse bred in the Golden State to wear the garland of roses since Decidedly in 1962. It is the second Derby victory for jockey Victor Espinoza and first for Art Sherman, who became the oldest Derby-winning trainer at 77. (May 3)
· California Chrome’s quest to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 36 years falls short as the heavy favorite dead-heats for fourth behind winner Tonalist in the 146th Belmont Stakes. The third-largest crowd in Belmont history, 102,199, watches the drama unfold, while another 20.6 million viewers, the second-highest Belmont viewership on record, tune in on NBC. In the aftermath co-owner Steve Coburn tells NBC’s Kenny Rice that the result is “a coward’s way out,” a sound bite that is replayed countless times in mainstream media. (June 7)
· Trainer Jimmy Jerkens saddles the top two finishers in the $1 million Travers, with V.E. Day besting stablemate Wicked Strong in the Mid-Summer Derby at Saratoga Race Course. (August 23)
· Two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan returns after more than two months of recovery from emergency colic surgery to win the Grade II Bernard Baruch at Saratoga Race Course with John Velazquez up. (August 30)
· Track announcer Tom Durkin calls the final race of his illustrious 43-year career at Saratoga Race Course. Following the featured Spinaway Stakes – in which “Condo Commando was splash-tastic!” – Durkin is treated to a long standing ovation and an emotional retirement ceremony in the winner’s circle, coverage of which makes the front page of The New York Times. (August 31)
· Two-time Horse of the Year Cigar dies at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital from complications following surgery for severe osteoarthritis in his neck. The popular member of racing’s Hall of Fame, who once won 16 consecutive races, had resided at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions since his retirement in 1999. (October 7)
· Jockey Rosie Napravnik announces her retirement and pregnancy live on NBC Sports after winning the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff aboard Untapable. (October 31)
· Bayern survives a tense inquiry into bumping at the start to win a controversial running of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the first Classic win for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, owner Kaleem Shah and jockey Martin Garcia. (November 1)
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next 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 a historic victory by filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. For 2012, the recovery of Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story. Last year, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections.
“The NTRA Moment of the Year is about a singular event, whereas The Eclipse Awards recognize entire campaigns across many months,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA Senior Vice President. “Fans deserve a voice, too, and this is their opportunity to tell us what they will never forget from an extraordinary year for racing.”
Fans 18 years and older can register to vote online at www.ntra.com. There is a limit of one vote per valid e-mail address. Multiple votes from the same e-mail address will be disqualified. Votes must be received by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday, January 2, 2014.
To vote for the NTRA Moment of the Year, click here.
About the NTRA
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, NTRA.com, the Eclipse Awards, the National Handicapping Championship, NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program, and HORSE PAC, a federal political action committee. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).