(From an NTRA Press Release) The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that Roy and Gretchen Jackson and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at New Bolton Center, have been honored with the 2006 Special Eclipse Award. The Special Eclipse Award, which is presented by the National Turf Writers Association, Daily Racing Form and the NTRA, honors outstanding individual achievements in, or contributions to, the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
The Jacksons, owners of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, and the representatives from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, who were responsible for the horse’s emergency surgery and continued recovery, will be presented the Special Eclipse at the 36th annual Eclipse Awards on Monday, January 22 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
In the hours that followed the near fatal injury to Barbaro in the 131st Preakness Stakes on May 20 in Baltimore, the nation’s attention was focused on the Jacksons — who campaigned Barbaro with trainer Michael Matz and jockey Edgar Prado — and the veterinary staff at the New Bolton Center, led by chief of surgery, Dr. Dean Richardson. In the difficult first hours of the crisis, the Jacksons took every reasonable measure to save Babaro’s life, and demonstrated great strength and compassion as an outpouring of hope and prayers flowed in to the New Bolton Center from well wishers around the world.
“We’ve tried to do the right thing from the start,” said Roy Jackson. “It’s been a surreal journey for us since the start of 2006 with a lot of ups and downs, but it is a real highlight in this journey to be recognized by the industry in this fashion,” said Roy Jackson. “It’s not just for ourselves,” Jackson, continued, “but also for Barbaro. He’s been the one taking us on this journey.”
Commenting on the New Bolton Center, Jackson added, “They have been remarkable throughout the whole process. Dean Richardson has done a wonderful job in explaining Barbaro’s condition to the general public in layman’s terms. Barbaro has brought them to the forefront, but they’ve been able to do remarkable things through combined research between the medical school and the vet school. They are leaders in their field.”
“Penn Vet is honored to represent the veterinary profession by receiving this extremely prestigious award from the Thoroughbred racing industry,” said Dr. Joan C. Hendricks, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “As veterinarians, we are grateful for the expressions of confidence in the care we provide and are appreciative of the outpouring of support we have received from around the nation during the past year. I am proud of our profession’s role in improving the racing industry.”
–end press release–
Editor’s comment: Barbaro is also a candidate for the Eclipse Award for best three-year-old colt; should he win that category, he would qualify for Horse of the Year. Voting closed at the end of 2006, so it is not likely that Barbaro’s recent problems would have gained him any sympathy votes. Lava Man and Bernardini, who won the Preakness Stakes in which Barbaro was injured, are also nominated. As I understand the speculations as I read the Thoroughbred Blogger Alliance commentators, Bernardini is favored, and Invasor (who in turn beat Bernardini in the Breeders Cup) is favored for best older horse. Both of those horses are owned by members of the royal family of Dubai.
Invasor and Lava Man, a gelding, will be back to race again in 2007; Bernardini has been retired and sent to stud, a move that has disappointed thousands of racing fans.