Eclipse awards cast light on world of horse racing


Horse racing's elite attended the recent Eclipse Awards Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The country's most important owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys and track owners traveled from all over the country to be there for the 24th annual event.

Several Marylanders were in the packed Grand Ballroom, among them Margaret and Jim (McKay) McManus. Jim was there to accept the award for ABC's coverage of the Kentucky Derby, which marks the seventh time ABC has won an Eclipse. Nearby was Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, former owner of Sagamore Farm, a former Pimlico president and owner of the immortal Native Dancer, who was given the Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime contribution to racing.

At Vanderbilt's table was Allaire du Pont, the grande dame of Maryland racing. From her farm in Chesapeake City, she has always encouraged horse owners to bring their best stallions to breed in our state. It was Allaire who persuaded Cissie and Bob Levy of Philadelphia to build their showplace farm, Muirfield East, near her farm in Chesapeake City. Two Eclipse Awards were given to famous jockeys for long and outstanding careers. John Longden was there to receive his, and Bob Levy accepted an award on behalf of Eddie Arcaro.

Other Marylanders on hand were Lynn and Stuart Janney, whose family owned the great filly, Ruffian. Janney, president of the Maryland Million, was sitting with his nephew and three nieces, the grandchildren of Ogden Phipps. Lily Phipps accepted her grandfather's award for Heavenly Prize, the champion 3-year-old filly.

Bob Manfuso, one of the former owners of Pimlico and Laurel racetracks, was at the dinner with Katie Voss, one of Maryland's outstanding horsewomen and trainers. Also spotted were Joe Kelly, former racing writer for The Evening Sun; Rich Wilcke, executive director of the Maryland Million; Joe De Francis, owner of Laurel and Pimlico, and his sister, Karen Van Dyke.

Babe's birthday

It's the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth's birthday tomorrow, and the celebration will begin early at his birthplace, the Babe Ruth Museum, when the museum's executive director, Michael Gibbons, takes "Today" show watchers on a tour of the newly restored birthplace and its "Ruthian" exhibits.

"CBS This Morning" is also scheduled to air a segment tomorrow, which was taped last month.

Several activities planned for tomorrow are open to the public. At noon, the museum will be rededicated during a cake and champagne ceremony. Author Tom Clancy, an Orioles investor, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former Mayor Tommy D'Alesandro and baseball great turned author and sportscaster Rex Barney are expected to attend the festivities, along with Ruth's granddaughters, Linda Tosetti and Ellen Hourigan, and four generations of Ruth descendants. Another bash begins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards at 5 p.m., with the groundbreaking for a statue of Ruth. This will be followed by a party at Bambino's at Oriole Park (admission is $15). Call (410) 727-1539.

Hats off

Kit Fellows plans to celebrate the first anniversary of her shop, Kit's Millinery Salon & Supplies, at Pomona Square on Reisterstown Road, Feb. 16 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. A reception, new spring hats and a charity auction of vintage hats from companies such as Sally Victor, Schoen-Russel, Jeanne Bodine, Irene of New York, John Fredericks and Hutzler Bros. will be offered. Auction proceeds will be used to help Fellows produce a how-to education video on head coverings for cancer patients. Her expertise comes from providing services to people who have lost their hair after undergoing chemotherapy.

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