The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that the Dec. 7 tragedy of the Lilac Fire that devastated the San Luis Rey Training Center in Bonsall, Calif., near San Diego, claiming the lives of 46 Thoroughbreds, has been voted the 2017 NTRA Moment of the Year based on the results of a record 3,303 votes cast via Twitter and an online poll.
Those most impacted by the wildfire, as well as the equine lives lost, will be recognized and memorialized at Thursday evening’s 47th Annual Eclipse Awards Presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. All responders who assisted in mitigating the year’s worst racehorse-related disasters – the Lilac Fire and the hurricane that struck Puerto Rico’s Hipódromo Camarero in September – are being honored with a Special Eclipse Award. Trainer Peter Miller, who lost five horses stabled at San Luis Rey, will represent the horsemen that stayed to protect their charges.
The Eclipse Awards will air live on TVG at 8 p.m. TVG is in more than 45 million homes nationwide and the ceremony also will be available via DirecTV Now, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.
NTRA Moment of the Year voters chose from 13 occurrences illustrating a range of human emotions as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. Finishing second was Arrogate’s last-to-first rally under Mike Smith to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup over Gun Runner by 2 1/4 lengths.
Represented on Twitter by the hashtag #RememberSLR, the San Luis Rey tragedy garnered 843 votes, or 25.5 percent of the overall voting. Arrogate’s Dubai World Cup, #ArrogateDWC, got 536 votes (16 percent). The death of Secretariat owner Penny Chenery, #PennyRIP, was third with 360 votes (11 percent).
Past Moments of the Year
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. In 2013, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections. The 2014 award went to California Chrome’s dominant win in Kentucky Derby 140. In 2015 there was a landslide vote in favor of American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown-clinching Belmont Stakes win. Last year California Chrome was again part of the winning moment – a dramatic Dubai World Cup victory that came as Victor Espinoza’s saddle slipped out from underneath him.
Eclipse Awards tickets are available for $425 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. Additional details can be found on the NTRA website at NTRA.com/eclipse-awards.