Hine skips way to Eclipse Owner's daring pays

'Smoke,' 'Diana' cited

January 09, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

For the bold stroke of her pen on checks worth nearly half a million dollars, Carolyn Hine won an Eclipse Award yesterday as horse racing's Owner of the Year.

A native of Baltimore, Hine wrote checks for $480,000 to supplement Skip Away to the $4.4 million Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Hollywood Park. For his electrifying performance in the Classic at the end of a gritty year, Skip Away also won an Eclipse as outstanding older horse.

"I'm extremely happy and proud and honored," said Hine, who grew up in a Highlandtown apartment above the family business, Seaman's furniture store. "I'm a believer, and I believe my horse is a champion."

This was Skip Away's second Eclipse Award. In 1996, he was champion 3-year-old. And he is in line for a third. Skip Away and Favorite Trick, who won an Eclipse for his undefeated 2-year-old season, are the finalists for 1997 Horse of the Year. The winner will be announced Feb. 10 at the 27th Eclipse Awards dinner in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Yesterday, 10 Eclipse Awards for horses and five for humans were announced after voting by representatives of racetracks, turf writers and the Daily Racing Form.

Maryland fared well as state-bred Smoke Glacken, a son of Two Punch and Majesty's Crown, won the Eclipse as top sprinter, and Countess Diana, a state-sired daughter of Deerhound and T.V. Countess, won as champion 2-year-old female.

Before suffering a career-ending injury in August, the 3-year-old Smoke Glacken had won all six races of a mile or shorter. He beat older horses in his last race, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

"If you can produce the best horse in any division, it says a lot for your stallion," said Richard Golden, president of Northview Stallion Station, home to Two Punch. "This brings Northview national recognition, and it brings Maryland national recognition."

Deerhound, the sire of Countess Diana, stood at Audrey and Allen Murray's Murmur Farm in Darlington until his sale in the fall and transfer to Brookdale Farm in Kentucky.

Also, Maryland trainer Carlos Garcia and his wife, Carol, developed the filly. After her first start for Garcia at Pimlico, Countess Diana joined Patrick Byrne's stable in Kentucky.

Countess Diana won five of six races, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies by 8 1/2 lengths, the second-largest margin in Breeders' Cup history.

Despite training both juvenile champions, Byrne lost Trainer of the Year in tight voting to Bob Baffert. The affable Baffert trained Silver Charm, who won an Eclipse as 3-year-old male. The gray powerhouse won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, before losing the Belmont by less than a length.

"When I left Prescott Downs in 1984 [as a trainer of quarter horses], I never imagined I'd ever be in this position, much less win a Kentucky Derby," said Baffert, his voice cracking. "This is very emotional for me."

Byrne recently accepted a job as private trainer for the Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach. Byrne had to give up both juvenile champions. Favorite Trick went to Bill Mott. The fate of Countess Diana is undecided.

Other Eclipse Awards went to Ajina as champion 3-year-old filly, Hidden Lake as champion older female, Chief Bearhart as champion male on the turf, Ryafan as champion female on the turf and Lonesome Glory as champion steeplechase horse. This was the fourth Eclipse for Lonesome Glory, a 9-year-old gelding based in Pennsylvania.

In other human categories, Jerry Bailey became the first jockey to win three consecutive Eclipse Awards. He led North American riders with purse winnings of $18.3 million.

Philip Teator and Roberto Rosado were co-winners as outstanding apprentice jockey. Teator rode in New York, Rosado at Philadelphia Park and in New Jersey.

Betty and John Mabee's Golden Eagle Farm won the Eclipse as top breeder. The California farm bred the 1997 winners of 19 stakes and more than $7.3 million.

It's your vote

Who do you think should be Horse of the Year? Call Tom Keyser's voice mail (410-332-6186), e-mail him at sportunspot.net or write Tom Keyser, c/o Baltimore Sun Sports Department, 501 N. Calvert St., P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore, Md., 21278-0001. Include your name and, for purposes of follow-up questions only, your telephone number.

Pub Date: 1/09/98

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