Well, after all is said and done, the one word that I am
left with, in regards to the 2013 Eclipse Award winners, is anti-climactic. All
was relatively predictable, and most horses who received an award, deserved to win.
However, while most of the awards could have been foreseen without the use of a
crystal ball, there were some elements that were highly surprising.
First off, Beholder’s win in the Three Year Old Filly Eclipse,
and not just her win, but a 207 to 42 score. I was on the side of Princess of
Sylmar. She had the better season, making history by winning the Kentucky Oaks,
Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama, and Beldame consecutively. No other three
year old filly has ever been able to accomplish that. She even beat Beholder,
in the Kentucky Oaks, when both were at their best, over a neutral track.
Beholder, while talented, has never won a grade one outside
of Santa Anita, and forewent the major stakes for her division, outside of the
Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup. Another recent California filly, Blind Luck, had the same
options as Beholder, was not even close to the physical specimen that Beholder
is, and yet was able to travel back and forth several times, winning the Kentucky
Oaks, Delaware Oaks, Alabama, and Cotillion. When she ran out of options, she
ran elsewhere and proved she didn’t need to take her track with her to run and
win against the best. Beholder did not do that, and instead took off for months
before returning to the races in a unheralded, overnight stakes, against
allowance types. She faced nice horses in her Zenyatta victory, but she did not face
Royal Delta at her best, she faced an overmatched Joyful Victory and a troubled
Beholder beat these again, including Princess in the Breeders Cup, and handily,
but she did it while in the comfy confines of Santa Anita, fresh as can be,
while others had been out campaigning all summer. To me, that is not an eclipse
worthy season, and while I know the Breeders' Cup holds more weight than it
should, in the Eclipse voting, it is a slap in the face that the voting ended
207 to 42. Beholder did not have the better season, and she is not hands
down the better horse, as the voting would have you believe. The fillies, talent
wise, are noses apart. The voting would not have you believe that.
Overall, that would probably be the only award that I had any
major qualms with. I look forward to these two fillies, hopefully deciding
things many times over, on the track, in 2014.
Speaking of 2014, this year could not be looking any deeper,
in several groups. Just look at the males. The three year old males seem loaded
to bear with talent. Managing editor, Brian Zipse released his Down and Derby rankings and I cannot say that any one of those horses look substantially better than
the others. Right now, it would seem that there will be no shortage of quality
entering the starting gates of the Derby.
The older males just saw the power of Mucho Macho Man, by
his tour de force in the Sunshine Millions Classic. He didn’t beat much, but
Gary Stevens was sitting statue still for a quarter mile, and the six year old
stallion still hit the wire in a very good time of 1.48.76. Another one to
watch for is Shakin it Up. The son of Midnight Lute is now two for two since
returning in the races, and is running like gangbusters, out west. Late last
year, he took the Malibu stakes in 1.20 and four fifths, four seven furlongs.
Yesterday, he won the Strub, going two turns, in 1.41.86 for 8.5 furlongs.
It would seem that one of the very first grade ones of the
year will be a loaded one, seeing at the Santa Anita Handicap could very well
get the top three from the Strub, while also getting Will Take Charge, Mucho
Macho Man and Game on Dude. The Donn Handicap could also end up luring the
likes of Will Take Charge and Revolutionary, who by the way, looked very well in
his return not too long ago.
In the Older Female division look no further than your
eclipse nominees….You can expect all three Beholder, Princess of Slymar, and
Close Hatches to be knocking heads over the year.
So, have I got your blood pumping yet? If not you might want
to have some tests run, because there is no shortage of exciting prospects to
start this year off. 2014, without a doubt, looks like one of the deepest, most
talented years, racing has seen in a long, long time.