12/08/2013 12:57PM

The 2-Year-Old Filly Division, and Streaming


Every year, it seems, there is always at least one Eclipse Award division that is downright inscrutable. This year’s inscrutable award goes to the 2-year-old filly division.

After the Breeders’ Cup, it seemed the choices in this division boiled down to She’s a Tiger and Ria Antonia. They were the first two across the line in the Juvenile Fillies, separated by only a nose, with the previous divisional leaders (Sweet Reason, Artemus Agrotera) in the beaten field behind them.

Of course, She’s a Tiger was disqualified and placed second behind Ria Antonia for drifting out late and lightly brushing that opponent. So Ria Antonia became the official winner of the biggest race in her division on a borderline infraction that could have gone either way, as evidenced by the fact that the stewards’s decision was a majority, not unanimous, one. Yet because the running of the Juvenile Fillies was anything but conclusive with the official result not even determined on the track, Ria Antonia and She’s a Tiger’s Eclipse Award candidacies, such as they were, came packaged together in something of a coupled entry.

The trouble is, whichever way you choose to go between these two, you have to swallow hard first. Before the Breeders’ Cup, Ria Antonia made three stakes starts, was off the board in all of them, and had but a Woodbine maiden victory to her credit. There was a reason why she was 32-1 in the Juvenile Fillies, and regardless of what you think of the incident that resulted in her number getting put up, the fact is, she needed help from upstairs to get the Breeders’ Cup money. If Ria Antonia is the one you think should get this Eclipse Award, then you also have to think that official Breeders’ Cup results trump everything else, especially when there are no other compelling alternatives. I get that.

She’s a Tiger is, I think, a little easier to take because she, at least, won two stakes before the Juvenile Fillies, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, and was the more consistent performer. Still, she is not exactly a satisfying Eclipse Award contender, either. She’s a Tiger lost more stakes than she won and, in an official sense, she lost both of her two turn outings. If the stewards didn’t have to get involved in the Juvenile Fillies, then we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion. But they did, and that changed things for She’s a Tiger. A lot.

Into this breach Saturday stepped Streaming, a good-looking winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at Betfair Hollywood Park. Streaming, who had only just won her debut three weeks earlier, chased, caught, and put away an opponent in Taste Like Candy who, interestingly, was also coming off a strong first out victory and who also has the look of a fine prospect.

Although comparative handicapping is not something I often lean on because things like different racing surfaces and varying pace scenarios make it unreliable, the Starlet did offer a nugget in this regard worth considering. Rosalind, who was beaten only a half-length for it all when third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, was beaten 2 ¾ lengths finishing fourth in the Starlet.

The fact that Streaming’s Grade 1 breakthrough came late in the season is immaterial, particularly in the context of the way her division has played out this year. A more pertinent question would be whether a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet is enough on its own to put a 2-year-old filly in the Eclipse Award discussion. For Streaming, again in the context of how her division unfolded this year, I think it does.