Sunday , 23 November 2014

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Cecil "Residents" Up For Eclipse Awards

     There will be a slight lack of sports coverage over the next couple days as Cecil Scene goes on the road. We are heading to California for the Eclipse Awards.

     The main reason to go is that Eclipse Sportswire photographer Bob Mayberger won the 2011 award for horse racing photography. But, while we are there, we will provide some coverage about Cecil County “residents” Union Rags, Animal Kingdom and Team Valor Stables.
     For those of you who don’t know, Cecil County is rich in thoroughbred racing history and just happens to be home to one of the premier training facilities for race horses. The Fair Hill Training Center is home to hundreds of thoroughbreds in training, but this week the focus is on Union Rags, Animal Kingdom and Team Valor.
     Both of these horses and Team Valor are leading candidates to win their own awards. The Eclipse Awards are given annually for outstanding performance by horses, trainers, jockeys and owners. For horses racing in North America, these are the highest honor possible. Winning an Eclipse Award can propel a jockey’s career forward, can increase the stud fee for  future stallion and can provide prestige (and potential clients) for trainers and ownership consortia. It is a pretty big deal.

     And, yes, there are Media Eclipse Awards and they are given at the same ceremony. Here is a little primer if you just jumped in at the quarter-pole and have no idea who anyone is.

     Let’s start with Union Rags. Until the year-end racing championship for two year-olds in the Breeders’ Cup, Union Rags was undefeated. The juvenile colt overcame a bad start and traffic trouble to finish a fast-closing second place to winner Hansen.  Union Rags is headquarted at Fair Hill in the barn of trainer Michael Matz.  As with Animal Kingdom, he is temporarily in the sunny climes of Florida to start of his 2012 racing campaign, but home is Fair Hill. Union Rags is nominated as Champion Juvenile
     Now, Animal Kingdom. If not for some bad racing luck, he could have won horse racing’s Triple Crown. There is a reason no horse has done it since Affirmed in 1978 – it is a tough feat.  That said, Animal Kingdom won the 2011 Kentucky Derby, bringing owner Team Valor and trainer Graham Motion their first Derby wins.  Animal Kingdom then had to overcome several factors in the Preakness, but his hard-charging second place finish wasn’t enough to overtake eventual winner Shackleford.  Animal Kingdom was then injured in the Belmont Stakes and his racing season was over for 2011. AK is nominated as Champion Three Year Old.

     Team Valor owns Animal Kingdom.  The elite racing partnership is the brainchild of racing-writer-turned-Derby-winner Barry Irwin.  After the 2010 racing season concluded, he made the bold move of putting all U.S.-based horses owned by Team Valor under the tutelage of trainer Graham Motion. Irwin liked the remote training center environment offered by Fair Hill and he like Motion’s style of training. Team Valor bought a vacant barn, updated it, upgraded it and Cecil County picked up more than twenty new equine residents. Team Valor is nominated as top owner.

    Please follow our coverage. Maybe some Cecil County residents can bring home some prestigious hardware from today’s award ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Wish ‘em luck.    

Cecil "Residents" Up For Eclipse Awards Reviewed by on .      There will be a slight lack of sports coverage over the next couple days as Cecil Scene goes on the road. We are heading to California      There will be a slight lack of sports coverage over the next couple days as Cecil Scene goes on the road. We are heading to California Rating:

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