01/11/2013 3:44PM

Richard Migliore: Letter to the Editor

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Champion rider comes to defense of apprentice award

I have been reading with great disappointment about a growing movement to do away with the Eclipse Award for apprentice jockey. Turf writers I have great respect for have raised all kinds of reasons for the award's demise. I feel that the argument being made is a weak one and feel compelled to respond to this unfair and shortsighted idea.

I have always felt the Eclipse Awards are a celebration of our great sport. Over the years, categories have been added to enhance that celebration. This is the direction that our sport should be taking. I have read that there haven't been enough worthy candidates lately. Try telling that to these young men and women who get up at the crack of dawn while making great sacrifices - risking life and limb while endeavoring to do something that precious few are able to.

Another point being made is that honoring someone this early in their career is too much too soon because some past winners have had personal issues or have failed to fulfill their promise. Perhaps Major League Baseball should do away with Rookie of the Year since Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984) failed to overcome their demons and live up to their full potential. Closer to home how many 2-year-old Eclipse champions failed to be successes after their freshman season?  Should we do away with that category based on what they did after their championship campaigns?

Another writer said he didn't know enough about this year's candidates. I would hope that having the privilege of having an Eclipse vote would be taken seriously enough that the effort would be made to find out every candidate's story. You never know, one might be inspired, or better yet inspire, somebody else to go after their dreams in whatever field they chose. I am proud of my Eclipse Award as champion apprentice and understand firsthand the work it took to stand on that podium many years ago in front of all of the people in our great industry, the industry I am still proud to be a member of.

In closing, I will leave you with the words of the great philosopher Confucius "A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do we know that his future will not be equal to our present?"

Richard Migliore - Millbrook, N.Y.