At last night’s Eclipse Awards ceremony Michael accepted a special Eclipse Award on behalf of Old Friends. In receiving horse racing’s highest honor for 2014, we are proud to be in the company of legendary race caller Tom Durkin and Barbara Livingston whose photographs have done so much to connect the spectators with the horses, and who has taken so many magical and memorable photos of our horses. We love it that Rosie Napravnik presented Old Friends’ award.
As wonderful as so many people in racing are, and as many humans contribute in many ways to Old Friends’ existence and continuation, this Eclipse Award is – above all – an acknowledgment of the horses. Along with Horse of the Year California Chrome and the other champions of 2014, Gulch and Ogygian got rounds of applause. It’s not just because they’re 31 and 32. It’s for all they and their fellow retirees have done for racing, some of them on the track and in the breeding shed, all of them for the important work they are now doing.
Whether they are Silver Charm, Game On Dude, the hardworking claimer Marshall Rooster, or Escapedfromnewyork who was never capable of racing, these horses, individually and all together, embody the courage, athleticism, intelligence, and willingness to give their utmost, that distinguishes these beautiful animals.
The Eclipse Award conferred on Old Friends last night recognizes staff and volunteers’ dedication and hard work and supporters’ caring and generosity. But even more, it acknowledges the awareness of the voting press, racing fans and racing participants, that the horses matter. Successful or not. Young or old. That however greatly humans contribute to the sport, horse racing is the horses.
We congratulate the horses of Old Friends on their important contribution toward the well-being of all Thoroughbreds, every time they look a visitor in the eye, amble over to give a fan who loves them the gift of their presence, pose for a photo that gets retweeted, or just nibble their hay and enjoy the mild winter sun. They are history. They are today’s spirited or relaxed enjoyment of life. They are horse racing.
photos by Laura