12/22/2016 2:26PM

Crist, Beyer to receive Eclipse Award of Merit

Steven Crist (left) and Andrew Beyer were both longtime advocates for the horseplayer.

Steven Crist and Andrew Beyer are the recipients of the 2016 Eclipse Award of Merit, it was announced Thursday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.

Crist and Beyer are widely recognized as trendsetters in the field of turf writing. Both came to prominence in the 1970s and ’80s as outspoken advocates for the horseplaying public, with Beyer becoming an iconic racing writer for the Washington Post and Crist for the New York Times and Daily Racing Form.

Crist and Beyer will be presented with their Awards of Merit at the annual Eclipse Awards ceremony on Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

The presenting sponsors of the award said in a joint release Thursday: “Through extraordinary work as journalists and providing a voice for horseplayers, and promoting change and innovation for handicapping innovations across North America … Andrew Beyer and Steven Crist will be honored with each receiving the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing.”

“I couldn’t be more proud to hear that both Steve Crist and Andy Beyer will be recognized with the Eclipse Award of Merit. It is the highest honor bestowed to an industry participant in Thoroughbred racing, after an exemplary body of work is examined,” said John Hartig, CEO of Daily Racing Form. “Crist and Beyer have been associated with the Daily Racing Form since the 1990’s and their contributions to horseplayers are immeasurable. On behalf of Daily Racing Form, we salute them.”

Crist, 60, has held several key positions in the racing industry. In addition to his tenures with the New York Times and DRF, he was founding editor-in-chief of The Racing Times, a member of a New York State advisory commission on racing, and a vice president of the New York Racing Association. And while he was an important institutional figure on the racing landscape, his most enduring legacy may be as a horseplayer.

Crist, with the financial backing of Alpine Capital Group, purchased Daily Racing Form in August of 1998 and became its editor, publisher, and chief executive, in addition to writing a weekly column. He instituted major changes in the past performances, many of which were originally conceived with The Racing Times, including Beyer Speed Figures, detailed race conditions, and enhanced pedigree and sales information. Over the years, Crist introduced innovations such as trainer patterns, TicketMaker, and the revolutionary handicapping software Formulator, all vital tools for handicappers.

Upon his arrival at DRF, Crist conceived and launched the National Handicapping Championship, which will be contested for the 18th time in January of 2017. He also successfully lobbied for the winner of the NHC to receive an Eclipse Award at the annual ceremonies, reasoning that the horseplayer is as important a part of the Thoroughbred industry as any other participant.

Crist is the author of several books, including "Horse Traders," "Exotic Betting," and a memoir, "Betting on Myself."

In 2010, Crist was one of four in the inaugural class of racing journalists named to the Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor in the sport’s Hall of Fame, along with Charles Hatton, Bill Nack, and Red Smith. Beyer was inducted in 2013.

Crist retired as editor, columnist, and publisher emeritus at Daily Racing Form in July. He lives in Hempstead, N.Y., with his wife, Robin Foster.

“I am genuinely touched and honored by this award, not only on my own behalf but also for its recognizing the important role that journalists, publishers and handicappers play in Thoroughbred racing,” Crist said.

Beyer, 73, became interested in racing at a young age. He attended Harvard, but famously skipped a senior-year final exam to bet on Amberoid ($13) in the 1966 Belmont Stakes. He became a prolific author, writing several books on betting horses, with “Picking Winners” his most enduring title.

His handicapping revolved around his self-made speed figures, and they have become a staple for horseplayers everywhere. The Beyer Speed Figures have been a valued feature of DRF past performances since 1992.

“I am very gratified by it,” said Beyer upon learning of the award. “I really believe that over the last 25 years that our speed figures have really changed the way the industry look at horses. I am proud of what we’ve done and that the industry has recognized us.”

Beyer, an equally avid bettor, retired without fanfare from turf-writing activities early this year. He lives in Georgetown, D.C., with his wife, Susan Vallon.

Recognized as the highest honor in racing, the Eclipse Award of Merit is presented to an individual or entity displaying outstanding lifetime achievement in, and service to, the Thoroughbred industry.