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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

AT THE BOTTOM LINE, ECLIPSE VOTERS VALUED BREEDERS’ CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS AND MONEY WON

Hallandale Beach, FL,  January 9, 2923 – I am aware of the accomplishments of Eclipse–the horse–only in the broadest sense. But when championship finalists are announced at this time each year, I reacquaint myself with the achievements of an animal that raced three centuries ago.

Unlike nitpickers who posit that 2022 protem Horse of the Year Flightline cannot be considered in the pantheon of all-time great Thoroughbreds due to a lifetime resume limited to six starts, there is no knocking the mighty Eclipse.

Flightline would have been a five-year-old racehorse had the connections used the $3-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 28 as a career swan song instead of the November 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic. By contrast, Eclipse began his career at 5.

Eclipse made precisely three times as many starts as Flightline and, like the certain-to-be 2022 Horse of the Year, retired undefeated before later becoming a foundation sire. He “walked over” in eight of his victories and sired an astounding 344 race winners, including three Epsom Derby victors.

In all, 246 of 258 eligible voters–members of the National Thoroughbred Writers and Broadcasters, Daily Racing Form staffers,  and an amalgam of racetrack officials and Equibase field personnel, cast ballots. That’s over 95%. The country should do that well each November.

Eclipse voters are required to choose their top three finalists in each category, but the Eclipse Award goes to the horse or connections based solely on first-place votes. Top vote-getters are graded on a sliding 10-5-1 scale.

Looking at three finalists in each category, listed alphabetically below, one takeaway is voters value earnings as much as the stakeholders do, trumping qualitative factors when it involves two-legged champions, i.e., owners, breeders, trainers, and jockeys–apprentices graded separately.

The 58th Eclipse Award Finalists, with the exception of Horse of the Year, are listed below. HRIs ballot appears below each category in italics:

Two-Year Old Male: Cave Rock, Forte, Victoria Road (IRE)

HRI’s Graded Choices: Forte, Cave Rock, Victoria Road

Two-Year-Old Filly: Leave No Trace, Meditate (IRE), Wonder Wheel

HRI:  Wonder Wheel, Hoosier Philly, Meditate

Three-Year-Old Male: Epicenter, Modern Games (IRE), Taiba

HRI: Modern Games, Taiba, Epicenter

Three-Year-Old Filly: Nest, Secret Oath, Tuesday (IRE)

HRI: Nest, Secret Oath, Tuesday

Older Dirt Male: Flightline, Life Is Good, Olympiad

HRI: Flightline, Life Is Good, Country Grammer

Older Dirt Female: Clairiere, Goodnight Olive, Malathaat

HRI: Malathaat, Clairiere, Blue Stripe          

Male Sprinter: Cody’s Wish, Elite Power, Jackie’s Warrior

HRI: Elite Power, Jackie’s Warrior, Jack Christopher

Female Sprinter: Caravel, Echo Zulu, Goodnight Olive

HRI: Goodnight Olive, Matareya, Caravel

Male Turf Horse: Modern Games (IRE), Nations Pride (IRE), Rebel’s Romance (IRE)

HRI: Rebel’s Romance, Modern Games, Santin

Female Turf Horse: In Italian (GB), Regal Glory, War Like Goddess  

HRI: Regal Glory, Spendarella, Tuesday

Steeplechase Horse: Down Royal, Hewick (IRE), Snap Decision

HRI: Hewick, Noah And The Ark, Snap Decision.

Owner: Peter Brant, Godolphin LLC, Klaravich Stables Inc.

HRI: Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Godolphin, Peter Brant

Breeder: Godolphin, Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, Summer Wind Equine

HRI: Summer Wind Equine, Godolphin, Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings

Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher

HRI: Todd Pletcher, John Sadler, Bill Mott

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr., Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario

HRI: Irad Ortiz Jr., Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario

Apprentice Jockey: Jeiron Barbosa, Vicente Del-Cid, Jose Antonio Gomez   

HRI: Vicente Del-Cid, Jose Antonio Gomez, Jeiron Barbosa

Horse of the Year: Official finalists announced at Eclipse Award ceremonies January 26.

HRI: Flightline

Anticipation: Makin’ Me Late, Keepin’ Me Waitin’

Looking at the finalists, both ours and the official tally, leads way to a few personal, top-of-mind questions for the coming year:

Will protem champion Forte have the same kick he displayed at 2 when asked to go a 10th furlong?

Just how good will Hoosier Philly be when matched up against the big girls, and can Julia Shining catch up to the leading group? When and where will Leave No Trace get her second Grade 1?

Just how good is Arabian Knight, and will he be eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby?

Will Nest equal Malathaat’s accomplishments at 4, or even surpass them?

As of this posting, who is the best older dirt male in America?

Can Goodnight Olive be as effective going two turns, or will she be distance challenged?

Can Godolphin match their 2022 output?

Just how good is Spendarella and will Graham Motion try Ascot with her again?

Is Modern Games better than Rebel’s Romance?

Who will amass more earnings in 2023, Chad Brown or Todd Pletcher?

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2 Responses

  1. Jockeys: Corey Nakatani still Not in the Hall of Fame? I bet that his record/accomplishment/money earned, etc. are more than many who were already voted in. No Respect! Persona Non Grata?

  2. Probably has more to do with voting rules and the competition of nominees in the years he was on the ballot. There is nothing sinister about this oversight.

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