January 20th 2017
The 46th annual Eclipse Awards will be aired live tomorrow evening (January 21st) on TVG2 network at 7 PM CST. Below are my picks to win each award. I have purposely left out the Steeplechase Award because I am not fond of that form of horse racing and do not follow it. I have underlined the selections that I think are slam dunks.
With the other awards, strong arguments could be made for one of the other nominees. Especially the Male Turf award between Flintshire and Highland Reel. Highland Reel won the Breeders Cup Turf race, his only start on North American soil in 2016. Whereas, Flintshire was the top turf male in North America all year long until the Breeders Cup World Championships.
Horse of the Year – California Chrome
Older male – California Chrome
Older female – Beholder
3-year-old male – Arrogate
3-year-old female – Songbird
2-year-old male – Classic Empire
2-year-old female – Champagne Room
Male sprinter – A.P. Indian
Female sprinter – Finest City
Male turf – Flintshire
Female turf – Tepin
Owner – Juddmonte Farms
Trainer – Chad Brown
Breeder – WinStar Farm
Jockey – Mike Smith
Apprentice Jockey – Lane Luzzi
My pick for 2016 Race of the Year?
There were many great races in 2016. It was another very exciting season for horse racing with California Chrome winning the Dubai World Cup, Frosted setting a Met Mile track record, Arrogate setting a track record and event record in the Travers Stakes, Creator beating Destin by a nose in the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders Cup Juvenile and Breeders Cup Classic races, the pack of four crossing the finish line in the Woodward Stakes with Shaman Ghost winning by a head, etc.
But for me, the Race of the Year was the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff which pitted the 3 year-old rising star filly Songbird vs the 6 year-old mare Beholder who was making the last start of her career. Beholder won by a nose. This race has to be one of the Top 10 Breeders’ Cup races in the history of the event.
I witnessed the dramatic ending along the rail just past the finish-line. Nobody knew who won at the time. And I am still not 100% sure it was that close. But I will say that I was happy for Beholder and Gary Stevens. I think Beholder will go down as one of the Top 100 North American thoroughbreds of all-time. It was a very fitting ending to a great career.
Below are some of the pictures and video I shot.
The Crowned Champion Beholder
On the docket…
My next couple of blogs will be on the Pegasus World Cup and updated 2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Rankings.