Very early predictions for the 2018 Eclipse Awards

December 20, 2017 09:54am

In just over a month, the 2017 Eclipse Award winners will be announced. I’ve made my selections, but that was relatively easy. This, however, is difficult. As has become tradition, I’ve decided to fire up the ZATT time machine and jump forward just a little bit. Call it a fool’s mission if you must, but I’m only trying to have a little fun with some reasonably well thought out projections for the 2018 racing season. My very early picks for the 2017 awards made a few splashes, but were also sidelined by physical setbacks too many times. Let's see what I can do this time around... It goes without saying that my juvenile picks are needles in the haystack, but keep in mind, last year's selection on the male side turned out to be the Grade 1 winning Free Drop Billy Champion Two-Year-Old Colt – (Uncle Mo - Promenade Girl, by Carson City) Champion Two-Year-Old Filly – (Violence – Merry Chip Us, by Lookin At Lucky) Going down two different roads here with my soon-to-be sophomore selections. It's fashionable to go against the male juvenile champion as an early Kentucky Derby pick, and I often do, but not this time. I really do like everything about Bolt d'Oro -- his progression of races so far, his pedigree, his running style, his training, his toughness and, most of all, his class. On the distaff side, Road to Victory has only raced two times for Mark Casse, but what's not to like? The daughter of Quality Road has already won sprinting, and going two turns, and she also has won on both turf and dirt. Road to Victory also beat a very good horse over the main track at Churchill Downs. Champion Three-Year-Old MaleBolt d'Oro Champion Three-Year-Old FillyRoad to Victory With the Breeders' Cup scheduled for Churchill Downs in 2018, I almost took a flyer with a Kentucky-based horse for best older male, but in the end I could not get away from West Coast. He grabbed the 3-year-old division with force in the second half of the year, and he's proven all over the country. The best may still be to come for the impressive Travers and Pennsylvania Derby winner. Yes, I know Elate came up empty the final quarter mile of Del Mar's Distaff, but I do not believe that was not her best, and I only think that the physical specimen will be better this year. Besides, picking a Bill Mott-trained horse to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff, especially at Churchill Downs, is never a bad idea. Champion Older Dirt MaleWest Coast Champion Older Dirt FemaleElate I will be going with an all-American theme in the sprint division. Despite losses in both the Gallant Bob and the Breeders' Cup Sprint, I was thoroughly impressed with the way American Pastime finished off his successful first season. With improvement from maturity, I expect the good-looking son of Tapizar to be tough in the sprint division next year. If you remember, I picked the 3-year-old version of American Gal to be the best female sprinter of 2017, and if she stayed healthy, I believe she would have only added to her two graded stakes wins at Saratoga in her only two starts of the season. I will stick with the talented daughter of Concord Point again this year. Champion SprinterAmerican Pastime Champion Female SprinterAmerican Gal While it would have been easy to pick the likely Male Turf Champion, World Approval to come back and do it again in 2018, I am going to side with youth on this one. It's been more than a decade since a sophomore (Kitten's Joy) took home this award, so we are due. This selection demonstrates just how high I am on Analyze It heading into his second season. The son of Point of Entry looks like an absolute turf monster. Meanwhile, I've always been a fan of La Coronel. Last year, I suspect the trip to Royal Ascot took a little bit out of her, but she looked great in winning at Keeneland in the fall. She also looked good over the Churchill Downs turf course earlier in the year. I'll go with her in a wide-open division. Champion Male Turf HorseAnalyze It Champion Female Turf Horse - La Coronel Following the pending retirement of Gun Runner after the Pegasus, this award should have no clear cut favorite. In that case, I feel it wise to go with the horse I feel best about picking to win the 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic. Horse of the Year West Coast There you have it: 11 predictions sure to entertain at least a ghost of a chance for 2018 glory. Don’t laugh. This was not easy … Have any very early predictions of your own?  


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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