Electioneering for the Eclipse Awards is not nearly as widespread as it is for the Oscars. In racing, one of the dangers of horn-tooting is that it can backfire.
Phone Trick, one of the top sprinters in the country last year, was the subject of a campaign before the voting for the 1986 Eclipses. Walmac Warnerton, the farm where Phone Trick is standing at stud, hired a publicist to send out a reminder of the horse's record to the 200-plus Eclipse voters.
The presentation seemed low-key, and perhaps Phone Trick would have finished second to the champion, Smile, anyway, but one prominent voter took umbrage.
Lenny Hale, racing secretary at the three major tracks in New York, felt insulted. Hale fired off a strong letter to the publicist, saying that he could do his own homework regarding Eclipse voting and was capable of making his selections without outside help.
So what's good for the Oscars--unabashed advertising by the candidates--may not work for the Eclipses. At least it doesn't work with Lenny Hale.
Bill Shoemaker, back at work Wednesday morning for the first time since his arthroscopic knee surgery just a week ago, has three mounts that will be favorites or near-favorites in stakes at Santa Anita this weekend.
On Saturday, Shoemaker will ride Temperate Sil, his Kentucky Derby hope, in the San Vicente. Shoemaker worked Temperate Sil Wednesday and the Hollywood Futurity winner was timed in an outstanding :57 3/5 for five furlongs over a track that was producing a lot of fast works.
Shoemaker's mount in Sunday's La Canada is Seldom Seen Sue. They combined for a six-length win in the El Encino Jan. 24.
On Monday, in the San Luis Obispo Handicap, Shoemaker will ride Louis Le Grand, the likely second betting choice behind Zoffany.
Carl Grinstead won the Greer Garson award for making the longest acceptance speech at the Eclipse Awards dinner last Friday night in San Francisco. In 1971, when Ack Ack was voted horse of the year, Garson took longer to accept the trophy than it took her horse to run his races.
When Grinstead started his speech on behalf of his champion 3-year-old colt, Snow Chief, by harking back to his boyhood, the audience knew he wasn't going to be brief.
It was touching, however, when Grinstead remembered how he first became fascinated with horses--when, as a student at the University of Cincinnati, he made a trip to Kentucky to visit Man o' War and his groom.
There were other touching--and humorous--moments as well:
--Apprentice jockey winner Allen Stacy: "The first race I rode this year was a $5,000 maiden at Delaware Park, and then at the end I was working a horse like Broad Brush at Santa Anita. Dreaming was what 1986 was all about, and it was a year that proved that dreams can come true."
--Top breeder Paul Mellon: "My farm is in Virginia, which shows that you can breed good horses anywhere. In Virginia, the bloodlines are just as good and the grass is just as blue as it is in Kentucky."
--Corbin Robertson, one of the owners of champion older horse Turkoman: "Sixteen years ago, they gave out the first Eclipse Awards, and that was also the year I bought my first horse. And boy, was it slow."
--Wayne Lukas, trainer of Lady's Secret, horse of the year: "My first horse was Queenie, a pony that another kid would race up and down the street 45 years ago, when I helped my father with his milk route in Wisconsin. She cost $110, and since I was making $1 a week, it took me two years to pay for her."
--Penny Chenery, who bred and raced Secretariat, in presenting the trophy to Lukas: "I'd like to thank the man who rescued Secretariat."
In breeding Great Lady M. to Secretariat, Lukas got Lady's Secret, the most famous offspring of a sire whose stud career has failed to take off.
--Mike Bradley, the owner of Manila, male grass champion: "I'd like to thank one of the greatest breeders of all time, even though he might be in a jam right now."
He was referring to Eduardo Cojuangco, breeder of Manila and the brewer who was ousted from the Philippines along with President Ferdinand Marcos.
--Master of ceremonies John Forsythe: "We're here in the city where the Golden Gate Bridge was built 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, Bill Shoemaker was the same size as he is today."
In the days before the Eclipse dinner, there was the convention of the 50 tracks that belong to the Thoroughbred Racing Assns. That meeting includes a variety of seminars, one of which turned highly technical as an Englishman discussed an innovative, all-weather racing surface.
Halfway through the talk, Clement Hirsch, the president of the Oak Tree group that races at Santa Anita, asked someone outside the room: "Can you make any sense out of what this guy's saying?"
"Go talk to Ray Rogers," it was suggested to Hirsch. Rogers, executive vice president of Santa Anita, is a civil engineer and former track superintendent.
"I've been sitting next to Ray," Hirsch said. "He can't figure out what this guy's saying, either."
Horse Racing Notes Johnny Longden, still training horses, turns 80 Saturday. . . . Broad Brush, who logged about 6,000 miles being vanned to races last year, left California by air after running third in the Strub Stakes Sunday, but added to his mileage total before returning to Pimlico. The colt was flown to Columbus, Ohio, and vanned the rest of the way to Baltimore. . . . Broad Brush may be back for the Santa Anita Handicap March 8. A horse who won't make the Big 'Cap is Super Diamond, who is having problems with an ankle that required surgery four years ago. . . . Santiago Soto, unsuccessful in cracking the jockey ranks locally, has returned to Florida. . . . Alysheba, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and second in the Hollywood Futurity, will make two starts before running in the Santa Anita Derby April 4, according to trainer Jack Van Berg. . . . Back in training is Raipillan, the Chilean-bred who was injured while winning the Del Mar Handicap at 41-1 last September. . . . Trainer Charlie Whittingham has an unraced 3-year-old named Fiction. Her dam is Fact, who also produced the horse named Truth.
Since races were first graded in 1973, four horses--Affirmed, Bold 'n Determined, Exceller and Spectacular Bid--had each won six major stakes in one year. Lady's Secret broke their record with eight major wins last year. . . . Thoroughbred tracks were down approximately 5% in attendance and up 1% in handle last year. Quarter horse tracks were also up 1% in betting. . . . Danny Cardoza was the leading quarter horse jockey in 1986, his $1.7 million in purses topping Kip Didericksen by about $41,000. Blane Schvaneveldt, the No. 1 trainer, had almost $3 million in purses and more than doubled the total of the next conditioner on the list. . . . Michel Lachance, first in wins with 770 and third in purses with $6.4 million, has won the Harness Tracks of America's driver-of-the-year award, based on a formula that includes those two categories and in-the-money percentage. Lachance is a Canadian, as were 7 of the other drivers in the top 10.