2014 Thoroughbred Oscars

Please join us in congratulating NSLM Board Member Mrs. George L. Ohrstrom, Jr., the owner of Demonstrative, winner of the 2014 Eclipse Award for Steeplechase Champion.

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Trainer Richard Valentine and Jacqueline Ohrstrom accept Steeplechase Champion for Demonstrative. Photo: photosbyz.com | source: slide 12 – http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/slideshows/slideshow/2014-eclipse-awards/2014-eclipse-awards

The racing world is abuzz over the announcement of the winners  at the 2014 Eclipse Awards dinner held on January 17, 2015.  Now in its 44th year, the American Thoroughbred industry’s equivalent to the Oscars was established in 1971, when the Daily Racing Form, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the National Turf Writers Association (not necessarily in that order) first got together to sponsor the accolade.  Twenty distinct categories are voted on annually to honor champion horses, trainers, and members of the media.

J.B. Faulconer was the Publicity Director at Keeneland, the horse racing facility in Kentucky, and is credited with the idea for the awards. He asked Kentucky-based sculptor Adalin Wichman (1922 – 2013), who was also an Advertising Director at Keeneland, to design a statue befitting of the new national honor, and the Eclipse Award was born. The first ones were handed out in 1972 to the 1971 winners.

Adalin Wichman with Eclipse Award photo by Jennifer Podis from Alison Wichman
Adalin Wichman with a gold-plated Eclipse Award, the finish given for Horse of the Year. The other bronzes are patinated.  photo by Jennifer Podis, image courtesy Alison Wichman, MD

The artist retained copyright, oversaw foundry production, and finished each in her studio over the years to assure the trophy’s continued quality. Still cast with the same care today, each bronze is mounted on a Kentucky-walnut base with an inscribed brass plaque. The NSLM has one of these casts with a rare brushed finish in its permanent collection, donated by the artist.

Eclipse Award
Adalin Wichman (American, 1922 – 2013), Eclipse Award, bronze on wooden base, 9 ½ x 6 inches, Gift of Adalin Wichman, 2011

Adalin Wichman, a sculptor, painter, and jewelry designer, lived to be 91 years old. She was honored for her achievements in the arts in 2011 with Kentucky’s state-wide Milner Award given by the Governor. Below is the letter Wichman wrote offering the Eclipse Award to the NSL in 2009.

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Letter written to NSLM Museum Exhibitions and Collections Chair F. Turner Reuter, Jr., Curatorial General Files, Adalin Wichman folder

Wichman modeled the horse bronze in the likeness of the undefeated British Thoroughbred and foundational sire Eclipse painted by the renowned eighteenth-century British artist George Stubbs and numerous followers.

George Stubbs (English, 1724 – 1806) Eclipse, 1770, oil on canvas, Private Collection | source: http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_234660/George-Stubbs/Eclipse,-1770

The venerable “Stubbs”… we all throw the illustrious artist’s name around as the password to sporting art, but he’s just the tip of an amazing iceberg of images enjoyed by sporting enthusiasts and art lovers. To all of you who get goose bumps at the mention of any of the other equestrian portrait greats – Alfred Munnings, Edward Troye, Benjamin Marshall, Henry Stull, John Frederick Herring, or more recently, Andre Pater, for example – know that you are in fine company. Mrs. Ohrstrom can often be found in the galleries of the NSLM, and she gets goose bumps too.

– Claudia Pfeiffer, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art

Further Reading:

Adalin Wichman, designer of the Eclipse Awards statuette, dies at 91
Daily Racing Form: http://www.drf.com/news/adalin-wichman-designer-eclipse-awards-statuette-dies-91

Lexington artist Adalin Wichman, known for her work and wit, dies at 91
Kentucky.com: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/03/12/2553870_lexington-artist-adalin-wichman.html?rh=1

J.B. Faulconer, ‘Father of the Eclipse Awards,’ Dies
BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/2119/jb-faulconer-father-of-the-eclipse-awards-dies#ixzz3Pg5WD2j7

Demonstrative wins Eclipse Award for champion steeplechaser; Palace Malice second in older male division
Aiken Standard: http://www.aikenstandard.com/article/20150118/AIK0101/150119464

Demonstrative Named Steeplechase Champion
BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89631/demonstrative-named-steeplechase-champion

Demonstrative Crowned as Eclipse Award Champion
National Steeplechase Association: http://www.nationalsteeplechase.com/news/demonstrative-crowned-eclipse-award-champion/

Demonstrative Wins 2014 Eclipse Award
Chronicle of the Horse: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/demonstrative-wins-2014-eclipse-award

Ohrstrom savors Demonstrative’s Eclipse Award win; Campbell not shocked by Palace Malice’s loss
Aiken Standard: http://www.aikenstandard.com/article/20150119/aik0101/150119420

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