01/14/2015 4:16PM

Jerardi: Not all ballots are created equal


Awards shows, by their very nature, are hard to make exciting – unless you are getting an award or know somebody who is or don’t know the outcome for a very important award.

The 2014 Horse of the Year decision falls into the third category because a reasonable case could be made for any of the finalists.

If you like Main Sequence, you can support it by saying he was perfect in four races, all Grade 1, culminating with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

If you like Bayern, you can argue the horse won the championship race when all of the best dirt horses appeared for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, horse racing’s Super Bowl. It is a very good argument, one that is not easy to refute.

If you like California Chrome, as I do, you can argue it is Horse of the “Year’’ and no horse was better from the beginning to the end of 2014 than the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. I think that is also a compelling argument, one that convinced me to vote for California Chrome.

In between basketball games Saturday night, I will be watching my friend Jeannine Edwards host the Eclipse Awards on HRTV. I always like to listen to Jeannine talk about the game. And it will be especially interesting to hang through the show this year because none of us knows the outcome with certainty.

If I were betting, I would bet on California Chrome. I think he is the most likely winner, given the makeup of the electorate and how that electorate has voted in the past. Bottom line, it was nice for all of us to have a voice in the debate, unlike what has happened to Steve Asmussen and the Racing Hall of Fame.

I have always been baffled by that Byzantine process. One day some years ago, a Hall of Fame ballot appeared in my mailbox. I am not sure who decided I was going to be a voter, but I was not opposed to the notion. I did not ask to be included, but was not unhappy to be asked.

So I have been a voter for a while, but I have no say in who gets on the final ballot. In fact, I am not sure how that is determined. I have asked a few people on the nominating committee about it, but it appears to be like a grand jury where any leaks could lead to prosecution or least having your ballot and/or voice taken away.

Even more bizarre is the process of how it came to be decided that Asmussen was not to be included on the ballot this year. I was ready to vote for Asmussen last year before his status got “tabled” because of the investigations that resulted from that PETA video.

The trainer with the second most wins in history, the trainer of the Horse of the Year from 2007 to 2009, is not even going to get on the ballot this year to get his status “tabled.” Even before the nominating committee got to debate the merits, they were told Asmussen was not to be considered.

I am not sure what, if anything, Asmussen is guilty of, but I do know he has had no chance to defend himself. I have no particular faith in any “investigations” by racing commissions.

I would just like a chance to vote up or down on Asmussen. He is obviously qualified for inclusion on the ballot. He is closing on 7,000 wins. He wins races at the highest level.

My suggestion would be to do away with the nominating committee and then let the voters decide on all horses and people that are eligible by the established criteria. Please do not decide which horses or people are excluded from the ballot either because of performance or perception.

Every time Craig Perret is on the ballot, I vote for him. I have no idea why he does not get enough votes because his career should speak for itself. But at least it’s a reasonable process where my opinion has been trumped by the majority.

Every voter gets a chance to nominate, but only a few voters get a say in which nominees make the ballot. I have nominated trainers Michael Dickinson and King Leatherbury in the past. I have to believe if either or both ever made the ballot each man would get substantial support. But neither has ever made the ballot in this strange, somewhat arbitrary process.

If California Chrome does not win Horse of the Year, I won’t be whining. But if the Derby and Preakness winner was not on the ballot, everybody would be screaming.