My Eclipse Award Selections

My Eclipse Award Selections
Photo: Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire

 

The Eclipse Awards are notorious for igniting heated debates among the racing industry as it is discussed which horses are worthy of receiving awards. Press members and racing fans argue among each other ardently about these awards, but rightfully so, as each recipient of an Eclipse Award will forever have a guaranteed place in the history books. 


Below are the horses I would choose for each Eclipse Award:


Horse of the Year: California Chrome


It was the year of California Chrome. The three-year-old colt did the most for racing, attracting new fans to the sport, and drawing large crowds as a result of his accomplishments. He is one of three horses – the other two being Main Sequence and Untapable – to boast four grade one victories in 2014, but the only horse to have won two classics. In addition, California Chrome has grade one wins on two surfaces. Main Sequence and Untapable are both deserving of the Horse of the Year title, but the prestige and versatility of California Chrome’s campaign should make him the recipient of this renowned award. Other candidates include Bayern and Shared Belief, but Bayern only won two grade ones in 2014 and had a rather poor first half of the season. Meanwhile, the chances of Shared Belief – the winner of three grade ones in 2014 – receiving this award were inhibited by his absence the first half of the year and his unlucky loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).


Two-Year-Old Male: American Pharoah


Although American Pharoah missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) due to injury, he has the most grade one wins among juvenile miles, having won two. In addition, he defeated the eventual Juvenile victor, Texas Red, by 4 ¾ lengths in the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I).


Two-Year-Old Filly: Take Charge Brandi


Despite a poor record throughout most of the fall, Take Charge Brandi broke through with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Since that triumph, she has been on a roll, winning the Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III) and the Starlet Stakes (gr. I). She has the most grade one wins of the division with two. The other contender for this award is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) winner Lady Eli, and although she is undefeated, she has only made three starts and falls short with only one grade one win.


Three-Year-Old Male: 
California Chrome


Of the nation’s sophomore males, California Chrome has the most grade one wins with four. Most notably, two of these victories came in two of the most important classics for three-year-olds – the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Although California Chrome was defeated by Bayern in Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), he did defeat Bayern in Preakness and had an altogether more impressive campaign. Shared Belief also falls short with three grade one wins.


Three-Year-Old Filly: 
Untapable


This division will provide voters with one of their easiest decisions. Untapable, a worthy Horse of the Year candidate despite not being a finalist for that award, is the runaway winner in this category. With wins in two of the most important races for fillies – the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) – combined with an additional pair of grade one victories, two other graded stakes wins, and only one loss from seven starts, Untapable is most certainly the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 2014.


Older Male: 
Main Sequence


As a deserving Horse of the Year candidate, Main Sequence certainly deserves the award for Older Male. He was undefeated in four starts in 2014 – all of which were grade ones, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I). Although two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan was also undefeated in four starts in 2014, only three of those were grade ones and he unfortunately missed much of season, including the Breeders’ Cup, due to health issues.


Older Female: 
Close Hatches


Although I would personally give this award to Judy the Beauty, she is not among the finalists. Like Judy the Beauty, Close Hatches has three grade one wins on the year, although she fell apart at the end of the season and finished last in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Nonetheless, she won four consecutive graded stakes this year.


Male Sprinter: 
Work All Week


With no obvious standout, this division is among the most debatable. However, considering Private Zone and Goldencents both had their greatest success in 2014 at a mile rather than sprints, it appears that this is award belongs to Work All Week. Palace could also be a candidate for this award, but Work All Week finished the year with a flourish, winning two consecutive graded stakes – including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). Palace does have more graded stakes wins than Work All Week, having won three in 2014, and did actually win one more grade one than Work All Week; however, Work All Week defeated Palace in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and was overall more consistent throughout the year – with only one loss in six starts – whereas Palace only won three of his eight starts.


Female Sprinter: 
Judy the Beauty


This award has a clear winner. From five starts in 2014, Judy the Beauty acquired four wins – with her only loss being a fourth-place effort in Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I). Three of those victories came in grade ones, including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I).


Turf Male: 
Main Sequence


See “Older Male”


Turf Female: 
Dayatthespa


With three wins from four starts, including two grade ones and a season that was capped off by a Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) victory, Dayatthespa is the winner here.


Steeplechase: 
Demonstrative


Although the 2013 Champion Steeplechaser, Divine Fortune, had an Eclipse-worthy season, this award belongs to longtime rival Demonstrative. While Divine Fortune captured two grade ones in 2014 and defeated Demonstrative in both of those, Demonstrative has three grade one wins on his 2014 record – finishing ahead of Divine Fortune in two of those.

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University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program

 

About Mary Cage

 

Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and is an intern at WinStar Farm with a client relations and marketing focus, as well as some bloodstock duties.


In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.


Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a racing manager or client relations specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

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