01/18/2012 4:14PM

Jerardi: Contrarian view of Eclipse Awards voting

Patrick Lang/Lang Photography
Dick Jerardi says he thought long and hard before casting his Eclipse ballot for Caleb's Posse rather than Animal Kingdom (abobe) for champion 3-year-old.

I think I may have set an Eclipse Award record that can never be broken, only tied. I counted five divisions/categories that were somewhat in doubt before the voting. I managed to vote for the loser every time.

I had a friend in Maryland who was never comfortable betting unless the crowd agreed with his opinion. He was a terrific handicapper with zero confidence.

When I am betting, I generally want to be somewhere the crowd is not -- unless it's a pick six single. Then, I don't particularly care about price. Just get the horse home.

So, how exactly did I manage to find the wrong horse or person five times. Well, I had my reasons.

I voted for Union Rags as 2-year-old champion. The vote was not nearly as close as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Hansen won it, 194-52.
Now, the 194 apparently decided to reward Hansen on the basis of an unbeaten campaign and a win in the Juvenile, the championship race. I really don't understand such rational thought. I am programmed to look beyond the obvious. Sometimes, I insist on finding something that may not be there. I wish I could argue with the vast majority, but I really can't. Their votes made sense.

Mine could have been made from emotion as I got particularly close to the Union Rags story. But I also rationalized my choice after I watched the Juvenile replay a few dozen times. I really thought Union Rags was the better horse that day, but I appreciate that one can argue both sides of that.

If Union Rags did not lose all his momentum in the stretch when he ducked out, I have no doubt he goes by Hansen. However, the rational would suggest that Hansen should not be penalized for something Union Rags did. That is a very good argument and one that won the day -- decisively.

I voted for Caleb's Posse as 3-year-old champion. The winner was Animal Kingdom, 114-111, with 12 votes for Shackleford, 5 for Ruler On Ice, 4 for Stay Thirsty, and 1 for Uncle Mo. (Did Mike Repole have a vote?).

I took more time on this choice than any other. I never really felt comfortable because the comparison between Caleb's Posse and Animal Kingdom was impossible.

They never raced against other. One was in the Triple Crown; the other avoided it. One was done in June; the other raced in top form all the way to November and may have been the most impressive winner on BC Saturday. One won at the American classic distance in America's classic race. The other was a star around one-turn, average around two turns.

In the end, I think Animal Kingdom won it because of the power of the Kentucky Derby. And I can't argue with that much either.
Can I go back and change my vote?

I voted Game On Dude champion older male. The voters went for Acclamation 95 to 70 over Game On Dude, with Tizway getting 52 votes.
Acclamation was the most versatile horse in training. Could have been grass champion in another year. Probably would not have been right if the horse got no awards, as good a year as he had.

I went for Game On Dude because I loved his campaign, his consistency, and the fact that he ran every step in the BC Classic and held off all the closers except Drosselmeyer.

But I am a huge Acclamation fan. What was I thinking?

I voted for Graham Motion as leading trainer. He got 22 other votes to finish a distant fourth. Perhaps, I felt guilty not choosing Animal Kingdom. Maybe, it's all those bets I have cashed on Motion grass horses through the years. Actually, the trainer had another great year and you could make a case that Animal Kingdom ran really well in every Triple Crown race.

The colt was wonderful in Kentucky, really good when second in the Preakness and, even after that start and apparently suffering that season-ending injury, made an amazing move in the Belmont Stakes.

Again, I can't argue with Bill Mott. Really, winning the Ladies' Classic and the Classic is a year in itself. And Mott made me look good when I picked To Honor and Serve to win the Pennsylvania Derby. So, I am good there too.

I am not so good with the apprentice jockey results. I am with everybody who thinks this category should be ditched. The voting/re-vote fiasco proved it once and for all.

The voters don't know enough. The stats are misleading, even if done correctly. You are trying to compare apples and oranges.
I saw all three of the finalists regularly. Kyle Frey and Rosario Montanez ride at Parx. Ryan Curatalo is in New York, but stops by Parx occasionally.

Montanez lost his weight allowance in early August. His stats through seven months dominated his two rivals during that time frame. And he kept right on winning when he lost the bug. But Frey had the bug to the end of the year and eventually passed Montanez's strictly apprentice numbers.

So, you could make a pretty strong case that Montanez should have gotten the award on the basis of the seven-month numbers. Also, the eye test clearly went to Montanez for me. He is just a better rider than Frey at this stage of their careers. Very few of the voters, of course, would have any way of knowing that.

Which is not to slight Frey. He had the numbers. He had a great 2011. Typically, votes go to the rider with the best numbers as an apprentice. I understand the vote. So, Frey got the award, with 77 votes to 57 for Curatalo and just 19 for Montanez.

I voted for Montanez. And I do not have any second thoughts on that one.