01/06/2010 3:00PM

2009 Eclipse Finalists


There were no real surprises among the 50 finalists announced today for 17 Eclipse Awards that will be presented January 18 in Beverly Hills. Here they are, alphabetically by division:

The most prolific Grade 1 winners who didn't make the cut as finalists were three-time G1 winner Magical Fantasy among the turf females and two-time G1 winners Diamondrella, Seventh Street, Stardom Bound and Take the Points. The 15 other horses who won two or more G1 races in the United Staes last year all are all Eclipse finalists.

The closest without a cigar among the humans include trained Saeed bin Suroor and Jonathan Sheppard and owner-breeder Augustin Stable.

Winners and finalists are determined in slightly different ways -- winners by first-place votes, finalists on a point system based on each voter's 1-2-3 selections. This sounds confusing, but is actually the fairest way to do it.

If you used only first-place votes to determine finalists, you would have odd groups of finalists in categories with overwhelming winners. Let's say Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta got 248 of 250 votes in their divisions, with one nutjob vote each for two goofy selections who were not even in the division's top 10. Those two crackpot votes would make two unworthy horses finalists.

If you used 2nd and 3rd choices to pick a winner, mischievous voters would be tempted to leave out the chief rival to their choice to decrease the point count even though that rival clearly was among the top three in the division. So 2nd and 3rd choices only count toward determing finalists, removing any incentive to make tactical rather than honest selections.

At least there were no nutjob picks for Horse of the Year: According to Eclipse officials, Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta received every vote, though there were some abstentions on the 232 ballots submitted. Voters are not asked to make second and third choices for HOTY, which is why there are only two finalists in that division. 

Vindication More than 1 year ago
Jeff T, Your statements just show how special "Zenyatta" is.
PomDeTerre More than 1 year ago
Steve- Thanks for ypour remark, however, your comment seems defensive as well as contracdictory. You said: "The most Grade 1 winners who didn't make the cut as finalists were three-time G1 winner Magical Fantasy among the turf females..." The fact that a euro shipper has captured an Eclipse in the past is not the issue. The issue is that, per your own statement, Magical Fantasy didn't make it in as a nominee, while Goldikova, did. Her connections came ober here, raced her, then took the money and ran. Unfair to the US/Canadian animals. If she had run more of a campaign here, that's anther story; but she didn't. So while I stand corrected on my gaff of a nominating committee when I should have used the word "voters", I also stand behind my opinion. Because it was done before does not make it right. You think anyone in the UK is even going to entertain the idea of one of Wesley Ward's horses receiving an award? Get real.
War Admiral More than 1 year ago
Zenyatta is so talented that she spotted the "Breeders Cup Classic" field a furlong and a half before Mike Smith put her on her correct lead.
kyle More than 1 year ago
Jeff t, Midnight Lute, Midshipman, Zenyatta...these horses can't run on dirt?
DoswellGreen More than 1 year ago
Long time listener, first time caller. Since a couple of other people have already commented on the TrackNet & Mid-Atlantic Cooperative dispute, I wanted comment as well. I'm in the same boat as they are. I'm not a big bettor, probably between $10,000 and $15,000 in total wagers during a year, although somewhat less over the last year or two. I've been in love with horse racing for years, but have just about had it. I'm not betting now, and may not until my local track races for a few weeks this summer. I'm tired of trying to figure out what the takeout rates are, what bets are available where, and what the minimums are. I could set up an account I guess, but I'd rather be at the OTB. Sitting at home alone with my computer just doesn't get me fired up. So this year, I'm looking forward to playing more golf, instead of sitting at OTB every weekend while my buddies are out on the course. Over the years, I've taken people to the track and tried getting them interested in horse racing. (Trying to do my part.) At this point, though, I'm sorry and a little sad, but I'm not going to worry about it. I just think it's hard for the sport to pick up new fans, and even harder to replace the dedicated fans that it had. Thanks for letting me vent a little.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, big time sour taste in my mouth at Gulfstream (I play them a ton in winter for 50 cent P4), for taking the finale (10th) of a great card Saturday off the turf, AFTER the 9th had been run. I wasn't alive to P4 (would have been even madder then), but did have the 30-1 winner in the 9th into some DD's with some other longshots. GP's conso pays essentially ALL, so I got as much for my wheel with longest shot on the board, as with the favorite (25.10 for a buck). Thing is, it wasn't raining any more at that point than it did all day. That decision should have been made hours prior, or not at all. Imagine having used that 30-1 horse in the 9th, made it alive to the finale, and then have your picks scratched into the fave who ran off the board. They should at least do what NY does...pay out as a P3 if the P4 has a race moved to the main.
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
Jess Jackson is one of the few owners I do respect. He doesn't dither about worrying about how this or that decision might be received. After focusing razor sharp scrutiny and simple logic on an issue, he calls it; eight ball in the corner pocket. Just one example for which he will long be remembered was that lovely sound byte about the plastic racing surface at Santa Anita...Very simply, there were no dirt races in the '08 or '09 Breeders' Cups. Every dirt horse that contested an '08 BC race on ProRide was knocked so far off their game that not a single dirt horse pulled off a win. Not one. Like Jackson, the owners that sent dirt horses there this year must have known they would be cannon fodder, but having much less courage of conviction, they succumbed to industry pressure to 'show up' anyway. If they didn't understand this, they simply weren't capable of the same degree of rational analysis as Jackson.
Justin More than 1 year ago
HOY is based on what they accomplished in any given year. While Zenyatta is clearly a champion I can't imagine she would win based on ONE race in 09. She never left the comfy confines of California, she didn't travel to SEVEN different tracks, and of her 5 races, not EIGHT, her last was clearly best, and yes she did beat the boys ONCE, not THREE times. She did have wonderful career, but not a better 2009.
matt More than 1 year ago
afleetaxelforever, Very well spoken. The only problem is Zenaytta supporters are blind. They think she had this "all world" campaign in '09. They think HOTY is held to one race... A horse who runs for 5 months of the year does not, and should not be under consideration for HOTY...
david catalano More than 1 year ago
Completely different topic........somebody tell me what happened in Santa Anita's 1st race today.....is Pink Blossom a freak?? The splits and final time were incredible.....especially if you compare them to the feature for more 3 yr old fillies.