There are more than a few of us out there who have been calling for and hoping for changes to be made in racing. The NTRA looks to be on the right track with their new Safety and Integrity Alliance now Frank Stronach, the soon to be bankrupt racetrack owner and controversial choice for the champion owner at the Eclipse Awards has spoken out.
Frank may be criticized for many things but when you read the excerpt below from his recent guest commentary you have to admire what he's saying. He is publicly acknowledging that he didn't deserve the Eclipse Award this year and that changes need to be made so it doesn't happen again.
Of course this space has been trumpeting the need for standings and point based year end awards for years. It's nice to see such a massive force in the industry lending his weight in a similar direction. Will Stronach's comments change anything? No, not anytime soon but at least it's a sign that the mentality is shifting. Some will read these these comments and give the idea more consideration than they did before. This is how any major change comes about. First people have to agree that changes need to be made. Thanks to Frank Stronach for jumping on the bandwagon.
"I believe the Eclipse Awards need to be based on a points system with a clear-cut formula. Points would be awarded to owners for races won, with low-level races (e.g., a claiming race) receiving the fewest points, while graded stakes races (e.g., Grade 1 races) would receive the highest number of points. Under such a system, owners that had smaller stables but with a large number of high-quality, championship horses would end up with more points than owners that had larger stables and a lot of low-grade wins.
A points-based formula similar to this could be easily developed and implemented for both the outstanding owner and outstanding breeder awards.
The points-based formula would be completely transparent, with the result that anyone could independently calculate the total number of points won by an owner. There would be no guessing as to who might win and no questioning afterwards why a certain owner or breeder received the award. And because the points-based formula would be pre-determined, no one could claim the process was unfair owing to the subjective views of various judges or the result of votes cast by judges with potential conflicts-of-interest. All of the inevitable human bias and favoritism that judges bring to the selection process would be stripped out, leaving nothing but hard data and quantifiable results.
This is simply one proposed method for determining the winners of the Eclipse Awards. Others may come up with a different solution—one that the entire industry can support and stand behind. If so, we should openly debate and consider all of the options for enhancing the award selection process, and we should begin the discussions now.
If our industry were to move to a points-based system such as the one I described above, then I believe the Eclipse Awards can preserve their integrity. The awards will no longer be based on mere popularity or the prevailing whims and views of a select number of judges; they will be based on tangible, indisputable yardsticks of success. In short, the Eclipse Awards can once and for all become the undisputed hallmark of success for our industry."