01/16/2016 10:56PM

2015 Eclipse Awards Winners


Winners for the 2015 Eclipse Awards, selected by voters from Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Click on a winner to read DRF's profile. Winners were announced Jan. 16 at the 45th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.



Horse of the Year
American Pharoah

It’s unanimous! American Pharoah was the best horse in the country last year. American Pharoah received all 261 votes for both Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male when the Eclipse Award winners for the 2015 racing season were announced. View Full story »

DRF's American Pharaoh coverage | American Pharaoh profile


Voting: American Pharoah, 261.

Main Sequence

Older male
Honor Code

By the time the summer of 2015 rolled around, Honor Code, who was bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm, had stamped himself as a world-class miler, with victories in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and the Metropolitan Handicap. View Full Profile »

Voting: Honor Code, 126; Liam’s Map, 95; Tonalist 14; Effinex, 12; Shared Belief, 9; California Chrome, 3. Voter Abstentions, 2.

California Chrome

Older female

A dazzling summertime victory in the Pacific Classic highlighted an unbeaten season for Beholder, going 5 for 5 and winning three Grade 1 races on her way to capturing the Eclipse Award as the outstanding older filly or mare of 2015. View Full Profile »

Voting: Beholder, 256; Stopchargingmaria, 4; Sheer Drama, 1.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey

Zayat Stables

Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables had what could only be classified as a dream season in 2015, driven by the heroics of American Pharoah, the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years and the first in history to win both the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. View Full Profile »

Voting: Zayat Stables; 220; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 26; Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., 6; Reddam Racing,2; Godolphin Racing, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert wasn’t statistically the top trainer of 2015, but no one could argue that he wasn’t at the summit of his profession historically. For the first time in 37 years, following Affirmed in 1978, a horse won the Triple Crown – American Pharoah – and it was Baffert who trained him to that elusive trio of victories as well as to a Breeders’ Cup Classic triumph at the end of 2015. View Full Profile »

Voting: Bob Baffert, 200; Todd Pletcher, 44; Chad Brown, 12; Karl Broberg, 1; Jerry Hollendorfer,1; Voter Abstentions, 3. 


3-year-old male
American Pharoah

American Pharoah had a campaign for the ages in 2015, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years and going out an emphatic winner when facing elders for the first time in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Tonight is his night, and deservedly so. View Full Profile »

Voting: American Pharoah, 261.


3-year-old female
Stellar Wind

Purchased privately after a maiden win at Laurel Park late in 2014, Stellar Wind left a bone-chilling Maryland winter behind and arrived at John Sadler’s sun-splashed Santa Anita barn to embark upon what would turn out to be, well, a stellar 3-year-old season. View Full Profile »

Voting: Stellar Wind, 108; I’m a Chatterbox, 47; Found (IRE) 46; Lady Eli, 34; Lovely Maria, 12; Curalina, 11; Include Betty, 2; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Javier Castellano

Javier Castellano

Javier Castellano trumped his high standards in 2015 when he broke his own single-season record for mount earnings in North America. The feat was achieved during a year in which Castellano also won 17 Grade 1 stakes aboard such horses as Honor Code, Liam’s Map, Stopchargingmaria, and Keen Ice. View Full Profile »

Voting: Javier Castellano, 184; Victor Espinoza, 70; Joe Bravo, 1; Pedro Monterrey, Jr., 1; Irad Ortiz, Jr., 1; Joel Rosario, 1; John Velazquez, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2. 

Taylor Rice

Apprentice jockey
Tyler Gaffalione

Tyler Gaffalione was born to ride. The son of a jockey, he established himself as one of the top young riders in North America in 2015 and for Gaffalione’s efforts in his rookie year he is the winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice jockey. View Full Profile »

Voting: Tyler Gaffalione, 149; Eric Cancel, 63; Angel Cruz, 9; Ashley Broussard, 6; David Lopez, 3; Jorge Robles, 1; Voter Abstentions, 30. 

Big Blue Kitten

Male turf
Big Blue Kitten

In September 2014, Ramsey Farm announced that their homebred ridgling Big Blue Kitten would be retired to stand stud for the 2015 breeding season in Kentucky, but by the time the breeding season rolled around, the decision had been made to bring Big Blue Kitten back for another racing season. Big Blue Kitten ended up putting together the best campaign of his career, earning him his first Eclipse Award as North America’s leading older male turf horse. View Full Profile »

Voting: Big Blue Kitten, 134; Golden Horn (GB); 63; The Pizza Man, 41; Flintshire, 18; Chiropractor, 1; Grand Arch, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.  

Stephanie's Kitten

Female turf

Tepin began the year as a promising 4-year-old filly in trainer Mark Casse’s stable. She ended the season by winning the Eclipse Award as the nation’s most outstanding turf female. View Full Profile »

Voting: Tepin, 211; Found (IRE),38; Stephanie’s Kitten, 8; Lady Eli, 2; Curvy (GB), 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Steeplechase horse

Breed for greatness. Or something like that. No Thoroughbred gave better credence to that strategy in 2015 than steeplechase Eclipse Award winner Dawalan. His greatness just turned out to be of a different flavor. View Full Profile »

Voting: Dawalan (FR) 165; Bob Le Beau (IRE) 47; African Oil (FR), 2; Demonstrative, 2; Grinding Speed, 1; Voter Abstentions, 44. 

Ken and Sarah Ramsey

Zayat Stables

Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables had what could only be classified as a dream season in 2015, driven by the heroics of American Pharoah, the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years and the first in history to win both the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. View Full Profile »

Voting: Zayat Stables, 190; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 39; Darley, 13; WinStar Farm, 5; Adena Springs, 4; Spendthrift Farm, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, 1; Voter Abstentions, 8.

Main Sequence

Male sprinter

Runhappy won 6 of 7 starts in 2015 and $1.48 million, earning him the Eclipse Award as the nation’s champion sprinter. View Full Profile »

Voting: Runhappy, 255; Private Zone, 2; Rock Fall, 2; Mongolian Saturday, 1; Secret Circle, 1. 

Judy The Beauty

Female Sprinter
La Verdad

In 2015, La Verdad was a genuine star in the North American filly-and-mare sprint division, finishing first in six of eight starts while also running second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. View Full Profile »

Voting: La Verdad, 98; Wavell Avenue, 90; Lady Shipman 41; Cavorting, 19; Unbridled Forever, 5; Ageless, 1; Birdonthewire, 1; Fantastic Style, 1; Voter Abstentions, 5.   

2-year-old male

Nyquist, a Kentucky-bred son of 2010 juvenile champion Uncle Mo, is the first 2-year-old to win three Grade 1 races since Lookin At Lucky, the juvenile male champion of 2009. View Full Profile »

Voting: Nyquist, 255; Mohaymen, 3; Voter Abstentions, 3.

Take Charge Brandi

2-year-old female

Songbird won all four of her starts in 2015, the last three in Grade 1 events, by margins of 6 1/2, 5 1/4, 4 1/2, and 5 3/4 lengths. In other words, while we know she’s special, we still don’t have any clue as to just how special she really is.  View Full Profile »

Voting: Songbird, 260; Catch a Glimpse, 1.

California Chrome

Horseplayer of the Year
John O'Neil

To salute horseplayers throughout North America, John O’Neil of Huntington Station, N.Y., has been recognized as winner of the $800,000 first-place prize, an Eclipse Award, and the title of 2015 Daily Racing Form/NTRA Horseplayer of the Year for capturing the 16th annual DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship last January at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The National Handicapping Championship is the pinnacle of all tournaments for horseplayers and the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, offtrack betting facilities, and horse racing and handicapping websites. The NHC has enjoyed tremendous popularity over the past decade. The first NHC in 2000 had a total purse of $212,000. The total purse of this year’s NHC 17 is estimated to be $2.5 million, with $800,000 to the winner.

O’Neil, 75, is a small-business owner on Long Island. He was introduced to handicapping on visits to the old Jamaica Race Course in Queens in the 1950s.

“My brother took me one day when I was 14 or 15, and I’ve been doing it every day since,” O’Neil said. “It’s been a journey to get here, believe me. This probably makes me even after a lifetime.”

The 17th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island will be held over three days at the end of this month, Thursday to Saturday, Jan. 28-30, at Treasure Island.