Saratoga Springs, NY--Mixed in with the early Christmas mail was the official ballot for the 2007 Eclipse Awards. And none to soon. It seems like forever that all of racing has been mired in the morass of the New York franchise scenario. What a relief to concentrate however briefly on a positive aspect of thoroughbred racing.

The choices were not all cut and dry, they never are. Because there are no objective standards, there were instances when subjective judgment was required. How much controversy is engendered by the voting members of the National Turf Writers, Daily Racing Form and National Thoroughbred Racing Association officials remains to be seen.

But at least its the kind of controversy the sport can live with. Unless, of course, one believes that the lumping of synthetic track races with traditional dirt surfaces is inherently unfair. On the merits, it is. Dirt and all-weather surfaces are extremely different animals. If turf and dirt are separate, why dont synthetic surfaces deserve their own category? A question for another day.

Here, then, is a look at one mans ballot that requires the listing of three horses in each division, with the eventual champion determined by the horse getting the most first place votes.

Four-Year-Old & Up, Steeplechase: An easy category. Good Night Shirt a three-time Grade 1 winner. His five main competitors could muster only one G1 each. In a tight photo, weight carrier Mixed Up a neck in front of fellow G1 winner Gliding.

Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding: Only the undefeated, dual G1 winner War Pass, the spread-eagle Juvenile winner, is a legitimate titlist. Beyond the Nick Zito trainee, it gets a little dicey. Settled on G1 winner Wicked Style (Polytrack) in a photo over Court Vision, 3-for-3 around two turns, including the G2 Remsen.

Two-Year-Old Filly: Brilliant, undefeated Indian Blessing, the dual G1 Juvenile Fillies winner, is a no-brainer. Our second choice was unknown to us until we read her past performances. Rated Feisty, undefeated in three starts by a combined 15- lengths, is a dual G3 winner, including one over colts. Proud Spell was 3-for-4, including the G2 Matron, her defeat a game placing in Indian Blessings Juv Fillies. (Demoiselle winner Mushka and undefeated Pure Clan merited serious attention).

Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding: As simple as 1-2-3, as in Kentucky Derby 1-2-3, only inverted. Curlin, the clear champion. Street Sense had his opportunity at Monmouth Park but didnt win the rubber match. Finally, the remarkable Hard Spun. (Im already missing Street Sense and Hard Spun. Hope Curlin gives us a four-year-old season).

Three-Year-Old Filly: Rags To Riches was Americas only four-time G1 winner. All hail Queen of the Belmont! Tie-breaker goes to Panty Raid, a dual G1 winner and victorious on three different surfaces. Hard-hitting G1 winner Octave over G1-winning sprinter, Dream Rush.

Four-Year-Old & Up Male: A subjective call between two dual G1 winners owning light bodies of work. Defending Horse of the Year Invasor won the Donn and Dubai World Cup before injury forced retirement. A great loss of a great horse. Lawyer Ron won half of his eight starts, including two storied events, but maybe more a horse for course than anything else. Like we said, tough call. And, by default, Lava Man third.

Four Year-Old & Up Female: Ginger Punch, a gem, won three G1s at three different venues. Dual G1 winner Nashobas Key (one Cushion, one turf), might have been 8-for-8 if not for a tough-trip, boggy-course fourth in Filly & Mare Turf. Hystericalady, a versatile lady, for third, winning the always competitive Humana Distaff sprint and the G2 Molly Pitcher going long. And she lost two G1s, including the Distaff, by the combined margin of a neck.

Three-Year-Old & Up Sprint Male: Dual G1 winner Midnight Lute, including the Sprint. Fabulous Strike was 3-for-4, including the G1 Vosburgh and G3 Aristedes in 1:07 3/5. (A shame he sustained pre-Cup injury). Hard Spuns G1 Kings Bishop good enough for third. (If there was an Eclipse for speed and heart at any distance, it would stand on a mantle in his stall).

Three-Year-Old & Up Sprint Female: Surprising, my champion is Rivers Prayer, 5-for-5, two G3s and a G1, including the ever difficult Princess Rooney. Further, she won on Polytrack and turf. The classy, versatile Hystericalady, including the aforementioned G1 Humana Distaff, in a photo over dual G1 winning Dream Rush, unable to beat her elders.

Three-Year-Old & Up Turf Male: Thrice-winning G1 winner English Channel, easily. Dual G1 winner After Market over Mile winner Kip DeVille, the edge favoring the traditional distance type over a mile specialist. Tough call.

Three-Year-Old & Up Turf Female: The most vexing category with five multiple G1 winners and no truly dominant player. Lahudood for her two G1s, the Filly and Mare Turf breaking any ties. Nashobas Key, undefeated in four turf starts, including G1 Yellow Ribbon, before shipping to Monmouth. Panty Raid was 1-for-1 on turf, a G1 win over her elders. (Honorable mention to dual G1 winner Mrs. Lindsay but North American win was north of the border).

Breeder: Adena Springs, based on progeny earnings and graded stakes victories, over Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod and Will Farish.

Owner: Fox Hill Farms, for taking on all comers and any distance, ducking no one with their homebred, Hard Spun. Zayat Stables over Stronach Stables for runner-up.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen for his work with Curlin. Carl Nafzger (Street Sense) in a photo over record-breaking Todd Pletcher. (I have problems leaving Kairan McLaughlin off this list but split votes are not allowed).

Jockey: Prolific record-breaker Garrett Gomez, over Robby Albarado and Calvin Borel, respectively, who did their best work while the whole world watched.

Apprentice Jockey: Poised, prolific Joseph Talamo over Jermaine Bridgmohan and Alonso Quinonez, respectively.

Horse of the Year: Curlin, Rags To Riches, Street Sense.