JC / Railbird

Odd Voter Out

A rumor was swirling before the awards ceremony that at least one Eclipse voter had cast a ballot in protest, primarily against synthetic surfaces, for a mare other than Zenyatta as champion older female and that the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner would be denied a unanimous victory in her division. The gossip proved partially true: When the totals were released, Personal Ensign winner Icon Project was revealed the recipient of one vote to Zenyatta’s 231.

Reaction online was incredulous and outraged:

How in %$#* was Zenyatta not a unanimous selection as top older female? There’s always a wise guy in the crowd … Icon Project? Well, nothing in this industry should surprise me. (Art Wilson)

I see you, East Coast bias, raising your ugly head. Who the fuck gave ICON PROJECT a vote for Older Female? (@shirozora)

Icon Project voter probably same moron who voted Court Vision top male turf horse, I Want Revenge top 3yo male. (@filliesfirst)

The eejit who voted Icon Project as champion older female should out himself & not hide behind anonymity of DRF. She wasn’t even a finalist. (@francesjkaron)

Strong words.

Unfortunately for the curious and annoyed everywhere, the voter is part of the DRF bloc, which grants anonymity to its members. What the voter was thinking, what point they may have wanted to make, or what errors they regret — the rumor now circulating is that the voter made a mistake — will have to remain in the realm of conjecture, unless he or she comes forward to explain.

Update: The voter erred. “I’m so sorry. There is no way I meant to do anything but put Zenyatta on top,” said Duke Dosik. Vote totals were retabulated in light of his blunder; Zenyatta is now a unanimous champion.


Eclipse Award voting is yet another piece of horse racing that is antiquated and in the sole domain of the crumbling infrastructure of the old media and jaded insiders. A broader legion of voters and a turnover of some percentage of the voters each year would encourage the voters to treat it as the important matter that it is and not some conduit to express their personal opinions or protests.

Posted by The Turk on January 21, 2010 @ 6:43 am

I agree with the The Turk.

While I’m in favor of a voting process by people who cover the sport to select champions, the net needs to be widened to include more people.

I’m sure there are people in both the DRF and NTWA blocs who have no business voting in that they just don’t watch enough races throughout the year. I also think people who gamble a certain amount a year through a licensed U.S.-based outlet (maybe $100,000 and up) should also get a vote.

Jennie Rees wrote about getting broadcasters a vote. I’m not opposed to that as part of a TV bloc, perhaps. THe reason I say TV bloc versus broadcasters is because those shows have research staff and PAs who have to follow the sport as much as the people in front of a camera.

I prefer votes to points/standings for now but am starting to see some benefits to the latter as well.

Posted by EJXD2 on January 21, 2010 @ 7:39 am

“I also think people who gamble a certain amount a year through a licensed U.S.-based outlet (maybe $100,000 and up) should also get a vote.”

But that’s part of the problem today. far too many vote on the basis of personal agenda rather than the performance of the horses on the track.

No gamblers in their right minds would have voted for Zenyatta this year because the last thing he or she wants is for synthetic tracks to gain any credibility because none of them have the skills and talent to pick winners on that surface (as Andy Beyer clearly demonstrated in the BC Classic)

Posted by tvnewsbadge on January 24, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

I think the “voter-as-statement-maker” angle is way overplayed.

The biggest gambler I know told a coworker that he is focusing part of his attention this winter on Golden Gate Fields (synthetic) and Beulah Park (bottom level).

Someone valuing dirt form over synthetic form if all other things are equal shouldn’t really be that offensive either since the same thing has been going on with dirt versus turf for a generation.

Each voter is going to have certain preferences: 1 1/4 miles versus other distances, carrying weight versus running in allowance conditions, field sizes, surface types, win streaks, class, etc.

I’m sure some voters have used their vote to politic, but I’d also bet that it happens far less than people assume it does.

As an aside, it amuses me to no end that so many people are up in arms about guys like Crist and Beyer and other public handicappers not having picked Zenyatta to win the Classic. She was the 5-to-2 favorite in a field of 13 doing two things she had never done before. Yes, she won, and if they ran the race 100 more times she’d win most of those too so in hindsight 5-to-2 didn’t look so bad, but picking against the favorite is no proof that “the gamblers hate synthetic.”

I love handicapping Keeneland and Arlington, but I’ve given up on SoCal racing since the mandate—just way too many variables out there. Of course, I’m a degenerate, though, so I still can’t say no to the big days. :)

Posted by EJXD2 on January 25, 2010 @ 8:09 am

However, it would not benefit a fella like Mr. Beyer who makes his living based on dirt to have folks thinking that synthetics are equal to dirt when it comes to the test of champions since the surface is more difficult to handicap using their techniques.

If Zenyatta had won HOTY, that is certainly the message that would be sent.

I’m NOT saying Mr. Beyer is among them but I’m sure that fact was not lost on many voters who have a stake in persevering dirt as the be all/end all of American racing and it’s reasonable to assume that personal considerations did influence at least SOME of the voters.

Posted by tvnewsbadge on January 25, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

[…] on her blog opening up voting to broadcasters, an idea current NTWA officer Ed DeRosa supports here, as he does the possibility of including players who wager significant money through US-based […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - On Voters, Politicking, and What Ifs on January 26, 2010 @ 10:12 am