Eclipse Awards as of today - One Writer's Stance

Shanghai Bobby wins 2012 Champagne.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
With the Breeders' Cup just around the corner and many of the divisions still up in the air, I thought it would be a fun task to come up with my pre-Breeders' Cup Eclipse. So without further delay, I give you the Dead Heat Debates Eclipse leaders!
Two-Year-Old Male: Shanghai Bobby- This colt has done nothing wrong in four career starts. He won his debut all the way back in April, before returning in June to win the Track Barron Stakes. Horses that start that early normally do not dominate further down the line, but that is just what Bobby has done. As the months have gone by, he has only gotten better. Not one single two-year-old had been able to close the maturity gap as of yet. In his two most recent starts he took the Hopeful Stakes and the Champagne in impressive and dominating style. There is no other Juvenile male who can compete with his record. As of now he is your leading two-year-old.
Two-Year-Old Female: Executiveprivilege- There are several very good fillies in this division, but none with the body of work that this bay miss has. Five-for-five, four stakes, three graded stakes, and two grade ones. Wins at distances ranging from five and a half furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth. She dominated the Chandelier in her last effort, and looks to add the Breeders Cup to that resume. She is your leading filly as of now, but there are a couple who could snatch it if they prove better in the Breeders' Cup.
Three-Year-Old Male: I’ll Have Another- He only made four starts this year, but in those four starts he took three of the most important races in his division and beat the best while doing it. Paynter had a shot, but through no fault of his own, he was not able to follow up on his fantastic Haskell. No other horse has put together a better resume in this division and I seriously doubt one will step up in the Breeders Cup. With that in mind, this year, I’ll Have Another looks to be your champion.
Three Year Old Filly: Questing- This one was tough. I very much debated giving My Miss Aurelia the edge in this since she did win the head to head meeting in the Cotillion. However, Questing's two grade ones at Saratoga replay in my head, and I simply cannot forget the dominance she showed, when beating some very talented and legit horses. Two of those, In Lingerie and Grace Hall just came back to win graded stakes, with In Lingerie winning against her elders. The Breeders' Cup could easily change my outlook on this should My Miss Aurelia win again, but until then I think Questing has done just a tad more.
Turf Male: Point of Entry- One of the easiest picks I have. There is no other turf horse in America with his resume, period.  Wise Dan has been impressive, but this one has more credentials over the lawn.
Turf Female: Lady of Shamrock- Are you happy West Coasters? I gave a horse of yours recognition. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist some humor there. Anyhow, back to the why. In five turf starts this filly has won four times and come in second once. She has two grade ones and two more stakes to her credit. That is easily the best record of any older turf female or three year old turf female. She, as of now, has this division in a landslide.
Sprint: Coil- This was tough. I really don’t see any standout here. Amazombie was beaten plenty of times including by this one. He only has three starts, which I’m not a fan of, but with no standouts and knowing that his chances of winning the Breeders' Cup are solid, I’m putting him on top of a group that is basically leaderless.
Female Sprinter: Groupie Doll- Pretty easy decision, after three losses earlier this season she has taken her game way up with four straight graded stakes scores. Two of those are grade ones, and what makes it even more impressive is the ease in which she wins. I think she could go to the Sprint with the condition that division is in. The only horse I see with a chance to unseat her is Contested. Should that won win the Breeders Cup she will have a total three grade ones and four graded stakes. But as of now she is sitting second to this monster of a filly.
Older Male: Wise Dan- No older male in the Classic division has impressed me much, but this horse has been the picture of consistency all year. If not for a short head in the Stephen Foster, nobody would dispute his Horse of the Year credentials. Outside of that narrow lost he has won two other grade ones along with two other graded stakes. It would take a loss in the Mile and a win in the Classic by Game on Dude, Fort Larned or Ron the Greek for me to change my outlook on this.
Older Female: Love and Pride- How much flack will I catch for this? While I want to put Royal Delta on top, I feel as though with a total of two grade one wins, one on each coast, one even coming over Royal Delta, and two other stakes wins, that Love and Pride simply has the edge. I understand Delta has the “wow” effect, but that doesn’t take away that she seems to specialize in distance and around Churchill. Love and Pride may have lost the Delaware Handicap, but was that due to a blistering pace over a distance that may have been too far for her? She is clearly capable of nine furlongs, and as of now with four stakes wins and two grade ones she has the best body of work.
Horse of the Year: Wise Dan- Point of Entry and Game on Dude are right behind him, but extra points go to the most consistent horse in training for his versatility. Again, I think that he was the best in the Foster, and he only lost a head in the final stride of the race. Before and after that he has simply been brilliant. A win in the Mile would ensure this title for him, in my opinion.


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Older Comments about Eclipse Awards as of today - One Writer's Stance...

It's true the older horses have taken turns beating each other but IMO this is a very good group. I've watched and enjoyed Wise Dan and his quick turn of foot. IMO he's the best older male we've had in quite a while and the best of this group because of his consistency and versatility. His trainer isn't taking any chances shipping him and running him on a dirt suface on which he's never run knowing he'll be running at least two more years so he's sticking to turf and playing it safe. Being a gelding HOTY award doesn't mean much to them as they've stated. Dani, you make it seem as though I'm on a personal vendetta, I'm not. I've simply stated factually the way things have been. Also I nor you mentioned Rachel the lone exception in my life time Dominated the Champion Three-Year-Old Male Champion Summer Bird and there were no good older males that year by consensus at HRN comments. That is not the case this year. I however believe her Woodward in which she was never given a breather and five of the six horses running took there best shot at a time in the race best for them was a classic in itself. As for distance I realize times have changed and I've stated numerous times the classic distance has been figuatively reduced to 1 1/8 mile but I don't make the rules so I can only state the way things are. If you want to change the rules you have to talk to people higher up on the totem pole than I am. You flatter me with your attention but I've had enough on this matter until after the BC.
icy, polls say different. His ablity to run over multiple surfaces and his dominance has people calling him the best older male in training. That is not just me. Things can change. Before Rachel the last to win HOTY as a 3yr old filly were Twilight Tear and Busher, both fillies not only beat males but did it at the "classic" distance. Rachel never beat males at the Classic distance as you pointed out, so obviously wins at that distance are not required when one shows other qualityies that seperate them from the rest. Dan has his dominance and ability to win over any surface. So far that is proving enough for voters. You also say distance is surely can't mean America. Not when we constantly shorten the distance of our races. The JCGC that used to be 2 miles is now 10f, both Whitney and Woodward used to be 10f, now only 9f. The Met mile one of the most prestigious races in our country is only a mile. Distance is not celebrated as much in the USA as much as you make it out to be. Speed dominates, and Wise Dan has plenty of it and has used it to assert the dominance that ranks him so high on many lists.
And as we all know they used to have to win TOW 4 mile heats to be declared the winner of a contest.
What differentiates thoroughbred racing from other types is the many different distances they run as opposed to quarter horse and standard bred racing which each have one specific distance. Thoroughbreds have always been valued by their ability to carry speed over distance. The farther the more value placed in all categories, monetary (purses), awards (eclipse), breeding shed (higher fee). In 1993 Kotashaan a turf horse won HOTY winning six of ten starts and finishing second three times. In the process in addition to bettering his n/a counterparts he also bettered many of the top European horses. He won at distances from 1 1/8m up to 1 3/4m. Wise Dan farthest victory has been at 1 1/8m thus insuring he can't get HOTY. The winner will come out of the BCC or be IHA with POE having an outside chance.
For top turf male, Point Of Entry would get that over Wise Dan, if he were to win the BC Turf,I'll say even if Wise Dan took the Mile, or I can't list every variable such as all of the combinations of placings, margins of defeats, but simply put a better showing at the BC than Wise Dan.
Okay, say it still comes down to which horse wins his BC race. I'd say Game On Dude, of G.O.D. P.O.E. and Wise Dan, has the best chance to win his. After the BC, then it gets down to discussing things like domination in a grade 3, and strength of competition in all contenders' races.
Sprinters winning horse of the year? You are dreaming.
Mary, as many others have said awards should not be restricted to a certain distance. Give due credit to horses in any division. Should a sprinter or miler stand out as an older male when the classic division is leaderless then they should have a fair shot at the title. Wise Dan is top in quite a few polls, even over Game on Dude, even though Dude won last out. That should tell you that not many voters are going so much based on distance or surface, but the dominace one has shown. On cannot simply ignore the dominance Wise Dan has shown through the year. The way he has won his races is not often seen in turf racing. His Ben Ali effort was eye popping and record setting. His Foster while a lost, still showed what a good horse he is. One cannot overlook his dominace and consistency this year, and most aren't.
Personally, I'd like to see Lady Of Shamrock take top three yo filly, and Tapitsfly take top turf mare.
Wise Dan would not get HOTY over Game On Dude if both win their BC races. The grade 1 and grade 2 route wins plus the Classic would ensure that title going to Game On Dude. Wise Dan has 1 grade 3 route win on a synthetic track. Sorry, even with Acclamation's top older male award last year, with him being a turf and synthetic winner, and his wins were all in routes, things haven't changed that much. It won't go to a mainly, now, turf miler over a dirt router with each having 3 grade 1 wins. Point Of Entry, if he wins the BC Turf, would have the most grade 1 route wins, and could overcome a bias against turf horses for HOTY(unlikely, but not impossible) and top older male( Gio Ponti, Acclamation precedents) if the other two fail in their BC attempts. Not forgetting of course that IHA is sitting pretty on his laurels that must be trumped by outstanding effort.
Stand alone turfers do not win horse of the year.....It just does not happen.
Icy, when his best is on turf why take away points for not beating a group of dirt horses when he has now made it clear that turf is where he will stay for the rest of the year? He has beaten some nice horses in his turf races. Cityscape is a horse who won in Dubai came back and finished second to Excellebration going a mile. Silver Max was dominating his age group over middle distances and had been riding quite the streak. Dominus impressed a lot of people with his turf debut. Data Link has also performed well this year, so it's not like he has beat a horrible group of horses. In the Mile he's going to see a lot of new and very formidable faces. Should he win there how can you hold that against him? Especially when Fort Larned, MMM, THAS, and RTG have taken turns beating up on each other. Neither is a stand out in their division like Dan is in his. Game on Dude, has yet to really face the bulk of the best in the Handicap division and even he has proven mortal this this year on a couple of occasions.
"icyhotboo · Wise Dan, is probably the best horse in the world up to a mile on any suface." I'm saying many things. Life isn't fair. "The race doesn't always go to the swiftest." While Rachel Alexandra won HOTY in 2009 without winning at the n/a classic distance of 1 1/4 miles she earned it by dominating the 3yos including males up to 1 3/16 miles and beating older horses once. He Preakness run which was unprecedented from the outside post should also be mentioned. It's my belief that a horse not able to win at the classic distance doesn't deserve the award. I mentioned in another comment that if Wise Dan was a stallion he'd be running in the classic, but he's not, and he's not. While it's a very wise choice by the trainer it also eliminates him from HOTY contention. Personally I think 1 1/4 mile is within his reach but he has to beat the other best older horses who have been in the mix not just lose a photo. GOD has the same problem as I see it. Even if he wins it's his home field and he never got in the mix. A win gives him one win over this group while a win by Fort Larned or Ron The Greek give them three, Flat Out, MMM, THAS, two.
  • BrianAppleton · I think those are all excellent points, but I don't believe Horse of the Year is restricted to performance issues at distance. If the award only goes to horses that can race and win at 1 1/4 miles than it's really not for Horse of the Year if there's say, and undefeated sprinter or miler that has a far superious record for the year. Horse of the Year isn't about just classic distance horses, it's about any and all horses that specialize at any distance. · 1859 days ago
  • BrianAppleton · Gotta love the spelling erros in my response...thankyou auto-correct for absolutely nothing lol! · 1859 days ago
Wasn't DaHoss a double Mile winner as well 96 and 98? Didn't help him either.
if they finally stop snubbing turf than i say point of entry, allowance horse to grade 1 killing machine.
if they finally stop snubbing turf than i say point of entry, allowance horse to grade 1 killing machine.
Just review the history. As dominant as both Miesque and Lure were at the distance, it did not transfer to HOY votes in anything but their own category.
icy, just because he doesn't win over that group should not take away from who he has beaten on turf. he bested cityscape a world performer, dominus who impressed in his turf stakes now, and silver Max who was riding quite the winning streak.
I dont think distance should count unless, they can win at multiple distances, then that should be a plus. The award is Horse of the Year, not "Classic Distance Horse of the Year." It kind of like saying you cant be the best boxer if your not a heavyweight. Dominating the mile turf is just as impressive as dominating a mile and a quarter on dirt
Icy has a good point.

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