01/11/2013 4:34PM

Hovdey: The Year in Early Review

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Barbara D. Livingston
Frankie Dettori, suspended six months for a positive drug test in France, is appearing as a contestant on Great Britain's "Celebrity Big Brother."

Granted, it’s a little bit early for a 2013 Year in Review. But you’ve got to admit it has been a busy week and a half. Here are a few things that have filled the in-basket:

And the Nominees Are . . . – This week there were 32 horses announced as finalists for an even dozen Eclipse Awards and 33 feature films honored with nominations in 20 categories worth of Academy Awards. Don’t bother looking for any cross-pollination. There was no “War Horse” or “Seabiscuit” in the running this time around, and none of the beasts of “The Beasts of the Southern Wild” had lip tattoos, although steeplechase nominee Pierrot Lunaire does sound like he ought to be somewhere in the mishmash of “Les Miz,” and a whole bunch of horses were in the thick of the action in “Django Unchained,” including the courtly Fritz, who nodded each time he was introduced. We miss you Frau Bleucher!

Type Casting – When someone finally gets around to making the Rick Dutrow story, warts and all, here’s one vote for Philip Seymour Hoffman in the starring role, no makeup required. Hoffman, everyone’s favorite Truman Capote, was Oscar nominated for “The Master,” in which he played the charismatic leader of a quasi-religious cult full of true believers who ran afoul of the law. Dutrow, champion trainer in New York eight of the last 10 years, is a charismatic leader of a quasi-religious horse racing cult full of true believers who is now appealing his 10-year suspension to the federal courts.

Stuntman – That was not, repeat not, Gary Stevens the actor who took a nasty fall on the first turn at Santa Anita Park in a scene from the HBO series “Luck.” It was Gallyn Mitchell, doubling for Stevens and doing more than one take, by the way, because he wanted to make it believable. The same Gallyn Mitchell is among the just-released nominees (along with Jack Leonard, Basil Frazier, and Gary Boulanger) to join Stevens in the Washington horse racing Hall of Fame. This came as good news in the Mitchell household, especially since Gallyn is on the mend from a broken ankle and fractured vertebra sustained in a spill at Turf Paradise on Dec. 23. As for Stevens, he returned to competition on Jan. 5 after giving in to a seven-year retirement itch, which means he’ll be doing his own stunts again.

To Be or Not TV – The mighty fall in different ways. Frankie Dettori, suspended six months for a positive drug test in France, is killing time as a contestant on Great Britain’s televised trash-fest “Celebrity Big Brother.” Tapping into his inner Russell Brand, Dettori is already stirring the pot by surviving an eviction vote against the mid-20th century British model Paula Hamilton and those hand puppets from America’s alternate-reality universe, Spencer and Heidi. Meanwhile, former “Celebrity” inmate John McCririck, a staple of the Britain’s Channel 4 horse racing coverage since the days of Hyperion and a regular in the past on Breeders’ Cup telecasts, is suing the network for letting him go because he is too old. The idea that anyone is too old for horse racing is, on its face, absurd. But TV being all about the youth vote, he might have a case. Still, it’s hard for the flamboyant McCririck to deny that he is “too” something.

His World – In late December sports talk dynamo Jim Rome got a green light for a second season of “Jim Rome on Showtime.” That was good news, especially for the Rome family, which now must by definition include the classy mare Mizdirection, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last November at Santa Anita. Mizdirection, with Rome as principal partner, also was renewed for another season under the direction of Mike Pupye, and kicked it off in style on Jan. 5 with a victory in the Monrovia Handicap. Also too, Mizdirection is among the three nominees for an Eclipse Award in the category of Female Sprinter, which is nice, but with Groupie Doll in the mix is kind of like the guys up against Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor. Enjoy the evening.

‘Roid Rage – Horse racing has done what it can to curb the widespread use of steroids as an adjunct to training horses to run as fast as they can. If nothing else, the move helped in the public relations department, because when the general public hears “steroids” they think of Ben Johnson, Lyle Alzado, and the entire athletic population of the former East Germany. But especially they think of Barry Bonds. This week, it was announced that Bonds and fellow body-builders Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa received paltry support in their first year of eligibility for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, an early indication that being tarred with the steroid brush is going to make a difference in a ballplayer’s legacy. As far as great racehorses are concerned, the only one we know for sure who ever got a steroid was 2008 Derby winner and champion 3-year-old Big Brown, back when it was perfectly legal, and that was only because Rick Dutrow told everybody about it because he figured there was nothing to hide. That Dutrow. What a kidder.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry Jay...when I logged on in the morning your column was front and center for everyone to see....since I left my comment the only way I can find you is through a search worthy of a detective...DRF...the Pravda of racing publications...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Hovdey....I don't consider myself a part of any quasi- religious cult...I just think that Rick Dutrow is being singled out and given a much, much harsher penalty than others who have similar records simply because the lords of racing don't like him....it is a question of fairness...as you imply in your article, Dutrow is being treated more harshly then others because he told the truth...he exposed racings dirty little secret...and for that he must pay