2002 U.S. Horse of the Year Azeri's sale-topping baby by two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Deep Impact [JPN] is probably one of the best-looking babies I’ve seen to date (check out his conformation and walking video). He sold for the equivalent of $2.35 million. (Photo by JHRA)
This year was my first time tuning into the Eclipse Awards, American Thoroughbred racing’s highest year-end honors, and while the stream was very poor, the awards did not disappoint. In a year with many divisions lacking a single stand-out champion, the illustrious Horse of the Year prize went to heavily-favored Havre de Grace along with a shut-out in Older Female, culminating a remarkable campaign against girls and boys alike. Hansen drew the voters in for his two-year-old award, and Bill Mott triumphed in a close race for Trainer of the Year.
- Horse of the Year: Havre de Grace [166 votes] (Acclamation: 26, Game On Dude: 10)
- Male Juvenile: Hansen [194 votes] (Union Rags: 52, Secret Circle: 1)
- Female Juvenile: My Miss Aurelia [247 votes] (Stephanie’s Kitten: 1)
- Three-Year-Old Male: Animal Kingdom [114 votes] (Caleb’s Posse: 111, Shackleford: 12)
- Three-Year-Old Female: Royal Delta [243 votes] (Awesome Feather: 2, Plum Pretty: 2)
- Older Male: Acclamation [95 votes] (Game On Dude: 70, Tizway: 52)
- Older Female: Havre de Grace [245 votes] (Blind Luck: 2, Awesome Maria: 1)
- Male Turf: Cape Blanco [IRE] [172 votes] (Acclamation: 55, St. Nicholas Abbey [IRE]: 16)
- Female Turf: Stacelita [158 votes] (Perfect Shirl: 28, Never Retreat: 25)
- Male Sprinter: Amazombie [201 votes] (Caleb’s Posse: 42, Regally Ready: 2)
- Female Sprinter: Musical Romance [131 votes] (Hilda’s Passion: 53, Sassy Image: 46]
- Steeplechaser: Black Jack Blues [IRE] [137 votes] (Tax Ruling: 80, Decoy Daddy [IRE]: 1)
- Trainer of the Year: Bill Mott [83 votes] (Bob Baffert: 60, Todd Pletcher: 57)
- Jockey of the Year: Ramon Dominguez [197 votes] (John Velazquez: 30, Javier Castellano: 14)
- Apprentice Jockey of the Year: Kyle Frey [77 votes] (Ryan Curatolo: 57, Rosario Montanez: 19)
- Owner of the Year: Ken and Sarah Ramsey [55 votes] (Midwest Thoroughbreds: 60, Team Valor International: 25)
- Breeder of the Year: Adena Springs [151 votes] (Ken and Sarah Ramsey: 62, Ocala Stud: 5)
Among the most surprising and controversial of results, Animal Kingdom won the award for Best Three-Year-Old Male by a mere 3 votes over the terrific, dual-G1 winner Caleb’s Posse. The two, while expected to have a close race, were the hot topic of discussion for several months leading up to the Eclipse Awards, and by the looks of things, many non-voters were disgruntled by the outcome.
Also, now that mares have won the Horse of the Year prize for the past three years running, is it still just to still rank their victories in male-dominated races higher than when those same races are captured by the colts?
Overall, not a bad ceremony, but they could use a new audio and graphics person for the next stream and video presentation!