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The 39th Eclipse Awards ceremony returns to Miami Beach on Monday. Three riders who rode with a weight allowance during at least a portion of the past year are finalists for the annual honor of outstanding apprentice jockey. They are Inez Karlsson, Pascacio Lopez, and Abel Mariano.
Until the Eclipse Awards were first handed out in 1971, there was no official voting or national award for jockeys - journeyman or apprentice. Unofficial titles were bestowed on those with the most wins and money won.
When the Jockey Club was first established as the ruling body for Thoroughbred racing in America in 1894, there was no provision for apprentice allowances.
In 1897, the club's rules were amended to allow apprentice riders to "claim a five-pound allowance, provided no horse carries less than 84 pounds."
The rules were changed numerous times during the 20th century - the seven-pound allowance being first introduced in 1929 and the 10-pound allowance in 1953. Later, state racing commissions often established their own rules.
Test your knowledge of apprentice leaders of the past.
1. From the time the apprentice allowance was first granted to jockeys by racing associations, it has never applied to stakes and handicaps. And initially, it applied only to "selling races" - the predecessor to today's claiming races. An asterisk was used for years to designate the weight allowance, thus giving rise to the term "bug boy."
Despite being given no weight concession, many apprentice jockeys have been given mounts in - and been successful in - important stakes races over the years. Two have even won the Kentucky Derby. Name the two.
2. In the fields of sports and entertainment, early success does not necessarily translate into long-term success.
In the nearly four decades of the Eclipse Awards, only three riders have captured the award as an apprentice and also gone on to win it as a journeyman.
Many of the apprentice winners went on to only marginal careers and some, like Ronnie Franklin (1978), had ruinous futures. Name the first Eclipse apprentice jockey to later win the Eclipse as a journeyman.
3. When Eclipse Awards were first handed out in 1971, Laffit Pincay Jr. received the trophy for outstanding rider and Gene St. Leon won the honor as outstanding apprentice.
Pincay went on to win the Eclipse four more times, a record until it was surpassed by Jerry Bailey, who won the honor seven times.
One rider captured the Eclipse as outstanding journeyman rider only once, but in the same year, he also won the Eclipse as outstanding apprentice rider. Name this Hall of Fame jockey.
4. Near the end of 1981, the jockey who would win the Eclipse as outstanding apprentice that year flew to Tokyo to ride The Very One in the inaugural $537,000 Japan Cup. When the pacesetters backed up halfway through the race, they created a great deal of bumping, forcing The Very One to alter course - possibly costing her the race.
At the wire, Cash Asmussen - who two years earlier had won the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice - won aboard the mare Mairzy Doates. The Very One was third, beaten less than three lengths. Name the 1981 Eclipse winner for apprentice jockey.
5. The record books today show that in 1992, Rosemary Homeister Jr. was the first woman to win the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice rider. (She adopted the use of "Jr." after her name to avoid being confused with her mother, a trainer, who has the same name.)
But when the award was presented at the annual ceremony in 1993, another rider was named the winner and given the award.
Who was the original recipient of the award for outstanding apprentice of 1992 and why did he later have to relinquish the title?
1. Three Hanford brothers from a small town in Nebraska were jockeys during the 1930s. Buddy Hanford died in a racing accident at Pimlico in 1935. Carl Hanford went on to a more successful career as a trainer. The third was Ira Hanford, nicknamed "Babe" because he was the youngest of 10 siblings.
As an 18-year-old apprentice, Ira guided Bold Venture to a 20-1 upset in the 1936 Kentucky Derby - the first apprentice to win the classic. Just a month earlier, Hanford had been riding an unheralded 3-year-old named Seabiscuit in two allowance races at Jamaica in New York.
Bold Venture was Ira Hanford's only Derby mount. His older brother Carl went on to train five-time Horse of the Year Kelso and is enshrined as a trainer in racing's Hall of Fame.
In 1950, Middleground, a son of Bold Venture, won the Kentucky Derby under 16-year-old Bill Boland, the second and most recent apprentice rider to capture the roses. (Middleground was the second son of Bold Venture to win the Derby. The first, Assault, won the Triple Crown in 1946.)
Boland went on to a successful career as a journeyman. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
2. In 1974, Chris McCarron set a record for wins by a jockey in a single year when he won with 546 of his mounts, primarily riding in Maryland. He received the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice that year.
In 1980, McCarron won the Eclipse as outstanding journeyman. In that year, he won 405 races and became only the second rider to surpass the $7 million mark in single-season earnings.
McCarron's single-season win mark was broken in 1988 by Kent Desormeaux, who rode 598 winners - still the record. Desormeaux won the Eclipse Award as apprentice in 1987 and as journeyman in 1989 and 1992.
3. Few riders, if any, had such a meteoric rise to fame as Steve Cauthen. In 1976, at age 16, he finished last with his first mount at Churchill Downs. He rode his first winner a week later.
In 1977, riding the first half of the year as an apprentice, Cauthen won 487 races in all and became the first jockey to surpass the $6 million mark in annual earnings. He was voted the Eclipse Award for both outstanding apprentice and journeyman rider - the only rider ever to accomplish that feat in a single season.
Cauthen also was named Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year and ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. He appeared on the cover of the May 29, 1978, issue of Time magazine.
Two years after his first win, Cauthen guided Affirmed to victory in the 1978 Triple Crown.
4. After the inaugural Japan Cup in 1981, Richard Migliore, who finished third, got some kind words of encouragement from Hall of Famer Bill Shoemaker, who finished fourth.
Riding against the Shoe was the culmination of a dream-like season for the 17-year-old apprentice. It was after watching Shoemaker on television guide Forego (137 pounds) to victory in the 1976 Marlboro Cup that the young Migliore set his sights on becoming a jockey.
5. Jesus Bracho beat Rosemary Homeister Jr. for the 1992 Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice rider, but in 1993, Bracho was among seven riders who began their careers in Venezuela to be expelled because of falsified foreign riding records.
A lengthy investigation concluded in 1994 that Bracho was not entitled to an apprentice allowance in 1992. The rider surrendered his Eclipse Award as part of an agreement that led to his reinstatement as a jockey. Homeister was presented the trophy shortly thereafter.
Homeister retired from riding in 2004 to become a real estate agent, but returned to the saddle in 2006. She rode her 2,000th winner this past December.
In 2005, Emma-Jayne Wilson became the second woman to win the Eclipse as outstanding apprentice.