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Eclipse Awards Predictions 2016

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Horse of the Year

American Pharoah, Beholder, Runhappy. My selection, American Pharoah.  No use in wasting space here. First Triple Crown champion in 37 years plus the Breeder’s Cup Classic on the resume makes him the horse of the century at this time.

Two Year Old Male

Airoforce, Mohaymen, Nyquist. My selection, Nyquist. Once again this is an easy selection.  Five for five with three G1 wins including the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile.  May be my early pick for the Kentucky Derby.

Two Year Old Female

Catch a Glimpse, Rachel’s Valentina, Songbird. My selection, Songbird. This is another no brainer.   Winner of all four of her starts with three G1 wins including the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies over Rachel’s Valentina.

Three Year Old Male

American Pharoah, Dortmund, Runhappy. My selection, American Pharoah. See horse of the year above.

Three Year Old Female

Found, I’m a Chatterbox, Stellar Wind. My selection, I’m a Chatterbox. I’m giving the win here by a nose to I’m a Chatterbox only due to the fact that she raced more, including five G1 starts.  She did beat Stellar Wind in the Kentucky Oaks (3rd place over 4th place) but then lost to her in the Breeder’s Cup Distaff (2nd place over 8th place).  I think starting from the one post was a big factor in the race.  If Stellar Wind would have won the Distaff (she lost to Stopchargingmaria) I would have probably given her the award.  Found did beat the boys in the Breeder’s Cup Turf but I don’t think that was enough to win this award.

Older Male

Honor Code, Liam’s Map, Tonalist. My selection, Honor Code.  Not much separating all three horses but Honor Code did win and beat Liam’s Map and Tonalist in the Whitney and then came in 3rd place over Tonalist, who finished 4th, in the Breeder’s Cup Classic.

Older Female

Beholder, Sheer Drama, Stopchargingmaria. My selection, Beholder.  Five for five for the year with three being G1 wins.  If she didn’t spike a temperature when she arrived at Keenland for the Breeder’s Cup and bleed after a short gallop it would have been a “classic” BC Classic with her going against American Pharoah.  Sheer Drama and Stopchargingmaria are also great horses, each with two G1 wins this year but I can only pick one so I’m going with Beholder.

Male Turf

Big Blue Kitten, Golden Horn, The Pizza Man. My selection, Big Blue Kitten. Five of his six starts were G1’s with two 1st wins, two 2nd place, and one 3rd place finish.  Heavily favored Golden Horn who made the Atlantic crossing after winning the Arc de Triumph did beat him for 2nd place in the Breeder’s Cup Turf but I didn’t think it was enough to take the award.

Female Turf

Found, Stephanie’s Kitten, Tepin. My selection, Tepin. Easy to make a case to go with Found here after winning the Breeder’s Cup Turf but she only had two wins in eight starts in 2015 or Stephanie’s Kitten who did win the Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf but…I’ll taking Tepin. Even with throwing out her huge win in the Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile against the boys she still deserves this award.  In her three G1 starts on the turf she had two wins and a 2ndplace.  Additionally she did beat Stephanie’s Kitten at Saratoga in the G1 Diana Stakes in July finishing in 2nd place while Stephanie’s Kitten finished 5th.

Male Sprinter

Private Zone, Rock Fall, Runhappy. My selection, Runhappy.  It all came down to the Breeder’s Cup Sprint where Runhappy beat Private Zone with a great stretch run and setting a new track record. He also won his last six races including three G1 wins in his last four starts.  Sadly, Rock Fall could well have been the male sprinter of the year if he didn’t get injured and have to be euthanized after a workout at Keenland on October 10, 2015, only three weeks before the Breeder’s Cup sprint.  He was undefeated in his last seven starts with his last two being G1 wins.

Female Sprinter

Lady Shipman, La Verdad, Wavell Avenue. My selection, La Verdad.  This is a close one to call. Wavell Avenue beat La Verdad in the Breeder’s Cup Fillies and Mare Sprint with a late closing run but I have to look at all of 2015 to make my choice.  La Verdad raced in six graded races throughout the year and Lady Shipman raced in only one and Wavell Avenue only two.  While she didn’t finish the year great she did win five of her first six starts this year with one being a G2 and two being G3 races.

Trainer

Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher. My selection, Bob Baffert.  I’m going to have to throw the statistics out for this award.  While Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher have won millions more in purse money they also had hundreds of more starts.  In 2015 Baffert trained American Pharoah, the greatest horse in decades and undoubtedly the Horse of the Year.  While I’ll tip my hat to Brown and Pletcher I’ve got to give this award to Baffert.

Jockey

Javier Castellano, Victor Espinoza, Irad Ortiz, Jr.. My Selection, Victor Espinoza. This will make it a clean sweep for the American Pharoah connections.  No jockey in 37 years accomplished what Espinoza did in 2015 by winning the Triple Crown with American Pharoah and finishing the year with a win in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. As great a horse as American Pharoah is, he still needed the perfect jockey to compliment his talent. That being said it wasn’t a runaway by any stretch for Espinoza.  Javier Castellano (winner of the Eclipse the past two years) once again is a deserving candidate. His 344 wins, $28 plus million in purses, and 17 G1 wins was remarkable and would have given him his third straight Eclipse award if not for American Pharoah.

u gerryJay Cats

@catager

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