Championships, Year-End Awards…..they always create so much
drama. Why is that? You’d think there would be clear cut winners, clear cut
rules to help determine such winners, right? Wrong. In Eclipse Award Voting the
rules are far from clear. They are muddy and leave too much room for individual
interpretation. The award should go to the best horse, we all agree on that,
but what defines the best? The most talent, the best record, what?
I think the best way to determine which horse is the leader of
each division is by taking a page from Churchill Downs’ book and creating a
First thing’s first, award points based on the grade of each
race. For instance a grade one is worth 100 points total. 50 to the winner, 35
to the place, and 15 to the show. A grade two be worth a maximum of 50 points,
25 to the winner, 15 to the place, and 10 to the show. A grade three to be
designated 25 points, with 13 to the winner, 7 to the place, and 5 to the show.
This rule should go for each start made by any horse within its own division.
Now you ask, what about those horses that go over and beyond?
What about a filly taking on males or a 3 year old taking on their elders, or
horses trying a new surface….Bonus points. Bonus points should be awarded to
any horse who takes a swing at something greater than their own division, and
run top three. Say that a filly decided to run in the Derby, she should get 20
points extra. What if she tried her elders? I say 10 points extra, unless she
were to test elder males and then she gets 25. Any horse going from the main
track to dirt, should also get 10 extra points.
Now you say, well, all grade ones aren’t created equal. You
are correct, so we assign those that are already considered more prestigious,
more points. The Triple Crown is a biggie, the Preakness and Belmont get 120
points, while the Derby is 130. The Travers should also be given 120. Points
will be broken down by 60 to the winner, 40 to the place, and 20 to the show.
The Kentucky Derby would give 70 to the winner, 40 to the place, and 20 to the show. The
Kentucky Oaks would also receive 130, and the “Filly Triple Crown” of the Mother Goose,
CCAO, and Alabama would give 120. The Met Mile, the Big Cap, the JCGC, would
also get 120, with 50 extra to any horse who could sweep either coasts big
three. The same would go to any three year old cold or filly who could perform
the hat trick in their division. The one set of races that would be weighted
above all would be the Breeders Cup Championship Series, with each race being
150, giving 80 to the winner, 50 to the place, and 20 to the show.
Now that we have some set rules, let us test this out on a
division…say the glamour division and its “Big Three.” Orb is considered by
many, to be the leader. Based on this system, he has a total of 185 points.
Palace Malice would have 130 and Will Take Charge would have 125. As of now
this system has Orb in a very clear lead, and deservedly so, his body of work
is easily superior to Palace Malice or Will Take Charge.
Right now, it looks as though Will Take Charge’s only shot
to jump up in the division is an outright non placing by Orb and Palace Malice
in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Classic, followed by a big performance in the
Classic, from him. If Orb is his consistent self, and say, runs second in the
Gold Cup and third in the Classic, he would end up with 265, meaning Palace
Malice would need to win both the Gold Cup and the Classic to steal the
As you can see, the system is complex, but it gives every
horse a chance to shine in their division, and rewards a good body of work,
over a flash of brilliance, or simply taking the easy road out. If the
connections of a horse want the hardware they will have to go where the points
are, and if they want the ultimate honor
they will have to step outside of the box
to get it.