an open letter to Eclipse Award voters

Dear Eclipse Award voters,

Please do not abstain from voting in the steeplechase category for lack of knowledge about the division.  Please educate yourselves.

44 voters abstained from the steeplechase category last year, more than any other category.  40 abstained in 2014, 52 in 2013.  It’s a refrain in Eclipse Award voter explanations year in and year out: I’m not voting for steeplechase because I don’t know enough about the category.

Why not?

Keeping up with the top echelon of American steeplechase, or catching up on the details before voting in the Eclipse Awards, presents a no more onerous burden than keeping up with the top echelon of American flat racing.  In fact, given the relatively low volume of top-level races, it is a lighter burden than most other categories.  The National Steeplechase Association maintains a schedule of steeplechase race meets, with entries and results.  They archive videos for races at steeplechase meets, allowing you to catch up on jumps races that were not run at flat tracks like Saratoga, Belmont, Monmouth, Suffolk, and Parx.

Voting for our sport’s end-of-year awards is a great privilege, but also a responsibility.  You have your say in deeming Thoroughbreds the best of their division, in determining whose names are written on a page of the history books.  Cast an informed vote in every category.

Can an abstention be an informed vote?  Absolutely.  But, an abstention should come in response to there not being a deserving recipient, not because you did not know enough about the category to cast an informed vote.

But, with all of the information out there, abstaining for lack of knowledge is not enough.  You owe it to the Thoroughbreds, trainers, owners, and jockeys to be thoughtful and thorough with your Eclipse Awards ballot — and, this includes the steeplechase division.


Nicolle Neulist

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