The Eclipse Awards rock. The rules of what should be considered vs. what shouldn’t be considered is up for debate which makes the votes inconsistent since people have different ideas for what they think the awards should be. But here is how I would vote if I had one, and why.
Two-Year-Old Filly – Take Charge Brandi
These Juvenile are always hard, because it normally defaults to the Breeders Cup winner. But this year, Brandi is a very interesting horse. She fell flat this summer but after a questionable BC win, she really showed everyone what she is made of. The other consideration is Lady Eli, who is likely the most talented of the juveniles, however she didn’t quite do enough on the track to deserve the win.
Two-Year-Old Colt – American Pharoah
Yes, Texas Red totally smashed the field in the Juvenile but American Pharoah did smash Texas Red before hand. He has more GI wins than Texas Red. Another horse for consideration would be Hootenanny, but I am of the frame of mind that what a horse does outside of the USA should not count towards Eclipse voting. Though since his name is misspelled that makes me want Texas Red to get it out of spite.
Female Sprinter – Judy The Beauty
I mean, who else?
Male Sprinter – Work All Week
Won a lot of nothing races, but still won them. Silenced doubters in the Sprint, showed he is the best one out there.
Turf Female – Dayatthespa
Two GIs under her belt, beat everyone in the Breeders Cup.
Turf Male – Main Sequence
Easy. Four open-company races, won them all strongly. Sorry Wise Dan, but this isn’t a sentimental award.
Three-Year-Old Filly – Untapable
Because, come on.
Three-Year-Old Male – California Chrome
This, along with Horse of the Year, is easily the most debated award. My vote would be for Chrome because besides one bad race off a layoff, he has been on top of his game throughout all of 2014. Five race win streak before the Belmont, all stakes races. Ran awesome, but not quite enough in the Classic and on top of that has another Grade 1 win on the turf. Bringing his total to 4 G1s, and a G2.
Bayern as another big choice is easy to pick. The horse won the Classic and also dominated the Haskell, Woody Stephens and PA Derby showing a lot of versatility at the distances. “Only” has two G1s and two G2s. However, he has two huge blunders last and second to last in the Travers and Preakness are enough for me to think he doesn’t deserve the title.
Poor Shared Belief. Besides that controversial Classic the horse has 3 G1s (two of which beating older horses) and a G2 for an almost perfect season. He would be a slam dunk if he won the Classic, but he lost a lot of respect with that fourth place finish and the labored Malibu. He deserves to be in the conversation, but just not enough compared to Chrome or Bayern.
Older Female – Closed Hatches
Ugh, this one is tough. It should be “Older Dirt Female”, but there was no dominant horse for the whole year. Hatches looked like the best, which she definitely was, but something happened in the fall and she just wasn’t the same horse. She still has three G1s, though! Don’t Tell Sophia surged towards the end, but wasn’t enough to totally surpass Close Hatches.
Older Male – Goldencents
This is another hard one. Should be “Older Dirt Male”. Once again there is not shining star, and Goldencents doesnt have too many wins under his belt this year, he has a Breeders Cup win and a G2 win, but finished second in three G1s. The other horse for this would be Palace Malice who also has only one G1 win. This division is tough, but since Goldencents won a Breeders Cup race I think he noses out the win.
Horse of the Year – California Chrome
He beats out Shared Belief and Bayern for reasons mentioned above. The other horse to consider would be Main Sequence, but I give Chrome the win in this because being at the top all year round should be rewarded, while Main Sequence started his perfect year in July and only ran four times this year.