As I mentioned in my last blog, the Breeders Cup did its job in some areas, producing year end champions after the very best were pitted together and one reigned supreme. However, in other areas it muddled an already fuzzy picture even more. So, what do we do? What horses are champions? Some are easy to crown and other divisions still are left with many fighting to take charge.
One of the easier divisions to crown is the Juvenile Filly. My Miss Aurelia left no doubt in anyone’s mind that she is without a doubt the best two year old filly this year. She is a perfect four for four, and of those she won the Adirondack, Frizette, and Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies. Two of those stakes were grade ones and the other was a grade two. In the latter race, she beat the top fillies Wemissfrankie and Grace Hall, both fillies were also unbeaten. In this division she left no doubt of her dominance. My Miss Aurelia is your Eclipse Champion Two-Year Old Filly.
One would only think that after the win Hansen pulled off in the Breeders Cup Juvenile that he would your champion two year old. He’s unbeaten in three starts and considering the class hikes he took in each of his starts after his maiden it is an amazing feat. He also beat Creative Cause and Union Rags, the two most highly regarded juveniles in the country, so you would think he’s your champion, right? Nope, that may just be wrong. After a wide journey and running greenly down the stretch the Saratoga Special/Champagne victor, Union Rags still garners much support. Being that he only came up a head short many believe he was much the best and still deserves the Award. However, while I can see him winning and would not be crushed if he does, I still firmly believe that it is Hansen who should be your Eclipse Champion two-year-old.
The Turf award is another that is very up in the air, after both top contenders failed to make it to the Breeders Cup when found injured. Goldikova had a shot to steal the show off of one race, but she finished third, falling short of a historic fourth consecutive Breeders Cup Mile. Now it comes to Acclamation, winner of five consecutive graded stakes wins, three were consecutive grade ones that are sandwiched between two grade two wins and a grade three. Or….Cape Blanco, winner of three consecutive Grade ones, all of which he traveled over from Ireland and back. He is unbeaten in America and considering all the traveling and the fact he was running injured in his final grade one, speaks volumes. However, to this writer, it does not speak enough. Acclamation should be your Champion Turf horse.
Royal Delta blew everyone away in the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. She beat the rest of her three year old filly counterparts. She did the same thing at Saratoga in the Alabama, so the score for her this year vs Plum Pretty and Its Tricky stand 2-1 in favor of the regal daughter of Empire Maker. Royal Delta is you Champion three-year-old Filly.
The three year old male award is still very up in the air, unlike its filly flipside. In fact right now everything is so up in the air I cannot even narrow it down to a specific top three. Animal Kingdom will probably be nominated, even though his only big win was the Kentucky Derby. My top three, however, would be Caleb’s Posse, Shackleford and Stay Thirsty. Shackleford has done a lot this season, but it has been more placing than winning, and you need to win to win an Eclipse. Stay Thirsty has had some nice races, but all in New York. The Travers, Jim Dandy, and third in the Gold Cup says a lot, but non efforts in the Derby, Florida Derby and Classic. Caleb’s Posse has shown that his niche is sprinting, and in doing so he has beaten some of the best horses that were in training this year. Among his fallen foes are The Factor, Shackleford, and Uncle Mo. He has five stakes wins, two grade one wins, and is unbeaten while sprinting. Yes, he is a sprinter, but he has risen to the top of his class. Caleb’s Posse is your Champion three-year-old.
Now, before I lose everybody’s interest I’ll go ahead and save the rest of the divisions for another day. I hope this helps to clear up some of those muddled looking divisions, but something tells me I may have made things even tougher … oops.