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And The Winner Is..

Posted by on 1/5/2015 10:01:06 PM

Eclipse Award ballots were due at 2 p.m. on Sunday and I have been lucky enough to be one of the voters since the late 1970s. This year there are some obvious selections that even the casual racing fan or bettor will be able to make but the vote for Horse of the Year is truly up for grabs.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and Daily Racing Form represent the 3 blocks that vote and the winner of these awards can have some far reaching results for both colts and fillies.

For fillies and mare, it could mean that that runner will get a chance to be bred to the best stallions in the world and for the males, it means a stud fee could escalate tremendously if a horse were to be win an Eclipse Award and be honored as a champion.

Some of the categories are very easy to choose from this year. In the juvenile fillies mix Take Charge Brandi is a clear-cut winner. She was a rank outsider but won the BC Fillies and then proved it was no fluke taking the Delta Downs Princess and the Starlet.

There were a few juvenile males that were accomplished as Texas Red blew away his foes in the BC Juvenile but American Pharoah had already beaten that horse and he would have been a solid favorite in the Juvenile if he didn’t get hurt. Pharoah gets the nod.

The sophomore filly honors goes hands down to Untapable, who won six of her 7 starts and the only was to males in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

The votes for older male will likely be split between Palace Malice, my choice and Main Sequence. I went with Palace and used Main Sequence as the cinch winner for male turf horse off his unbeaten season.

Close Hatches pretty much dominated her rivals as the older female while Work All Week punched the clock, proved best in the BC Sprint, and should come away as the champion.

Judy the Beauty was just that winning her sprints. She was 4 for 5 for the year including a win on BC Day.

Chalk one up for the New York-breds as Dayatthespa pampered herself by winning the BC Filly and Mare Turf over a classy field of Grade 1 winners.

Several horses were talented enough to win Horse of the Year. Main Sequence will receive his share of support. Many will vote on the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and Shared Belief, who beat older horses in the Pacific Classic, will have his backers.

But California Chrome gets the call from this corner.

First of all, he showed up and ran 9 times. He beat Cal-breds in his first start of the year in a $250,000 race, won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and had trouble when beaten less than 2 lengths in the Belmont Stakes.

His only poor race came in Philly when Bayern got a lonely lead. In the Breeders’ Cup Classic both Chrome and Shared Belief had horrible trips; and Bayern caused the bad luck.

My feeling is if what transpired with Bayern happened in an ordinary race, he surely would have been disqualified. Or, if the race were in New York, he probably would have been taken down.

The stewards in New York tend to go by the letter of the law of racing and are more stringent.

My call is California Chrome in a photo.

As far as the human athletes are concerned, Todd Pletcher and J.J. Castellano deserve honors as does Drayden Van Dyke as best apprentice rider.

The great thing about this sport is that some of these stars will be back for all bettors to scrutinize again.

Let’s all have a great 2015.

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