Shifman: 2019's an exception to this Horse of the Year rule

October 15, 2019 11:03am

The Breeders’ Cup is less than three weeks away, with the weekly NTRA Thoroughbred Poll accordingly moving closer to identifying this year’s Horse of the Year.

It's only appropriate that each runner in the latest consensus Top 10 is targeting a championship event, as most Eclipse Award winners will be decided from Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park.

You'll find my weekly chart modified below to include the race of choice for these horses alongside usual information for the Top 10.

Three horses appear to be headed to the Classic and three to the Sprint. The other four are spread among the Mile, Distaff, Filly & Mare Turf and Dirt Mile.

Since the turn of the century, the
Breeders’ Cup Classic has been the main path to the Horse of the Year title with 12 of the 19 of the winners of the most prestigious Eclipse Award having participated in that race. Of those 12, seven won the Classic, two were second, one ran third, and two finished fourth.

Four Horse of the Year winners skipped the Breeders’ Cup entirely, such as Justify just last year. That list also includes Rachel Alexandra in 2009, Mineshaft in 2003 and Point Given in 2001.

That leaves a group of only three horses that were named Horse of the Year after they won a different race at the Breeders’ Cup.
Wise Dan did it in 2012 and 2013 after winning the Mile and Azeri capped a distinguished campaign with a Distaff victory in 2002.

McKinzie (No. 5), Code of Honor (No. 6), and Vino Rosso (No. 10) all ranked in the lower part of the Top 10, it sure feels like 2019 will be added to that list of seven when a Classic participant does not win the Horse of the Year. 

 Consensus Top 10

 2019 Breeders’ Cup race

1.   Bricks and Mortar (27)

 Turf Mile

 2. Midnight Bisou (13)


 3. Sistercharlie (1)

 Filly and Mare Turf

 4. Mitole (1)


 5. McKinzie


 6. Code of Honor


 7. Imperial Hint


 8. Omaha Beach (1)


 9. Catalina Cruiser

 Dirt Mile

 10. Vino Rosso



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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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