01/08/2014 1:15PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Chriselliam

photo by: Barbara D. Livingston

We have come to learn that a victory in most Breeders' Cup races translates into the winner becoming an Eclipse Award finalist in his or her corresponding division, if not the outright champion. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf has so far proven to be one of the few exceptions. Due no doubt in part to the widely held belief that the 2-year-old filly division is a main-track category first and foremost, only two of the first five winners of the Juvenile Fillies Turf made it even as far as a finalist for the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly.

It is in this context that Chriselliam being a finalist for the 2-year-old filly championship is best viewed. Even if the winner of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in her only U.S. start falls short of taking the Eclipse Award, being a finalist is, for her, quite an achievement.

Of course, no one who saw Chriselliam's performance in the Breeders' Cup can argue with her being an Eclipse Award finalist, because she was very, very impressive. Put quickly into easy striking position from off the pace along the inside by jockey Richard Hughes after breaking a step slowly, Chriselliam moved closer into the far turn and looked every bit the winner before even reaching the stretch and despite still being fourth behind a wall of horses. All that remained for Chriselliam to put the seal on the proceedings was for her to tip out and actually take command, which she did with a devastating burst of stretch speed that carried her to an overwhelming score.

"She's exceptional," trainer Charlie Hills said of Chriselliam right after her Breeders' Cup win. "She's got everything you want, really. She travels very well. She's so professional, you can put her anywhere you want in a race.

"She also has a very good turn of foot," Hills added in a massive understatement.

Chriselliam was the first Breeders' Cup starter for the 35-year-old Hills, who in 2011 took over for his father, standout English trainer Barry Hills. Chriselliam also capped a breakout year in 2013 for Charlie Hills, who earlier in the season won his first classic when Just The Judge landed the Irish 1000 Guineas. Hills later added another Group 1 win when Chriselliam upset the Shadwell Fillies Mile at Newmarket, which was by far the bigger of her 2 wins from 5 starts in Europe prior to the Breeders' Cup.

Chriselliam, a daughter of Iffraaj out of Danielli, by Danehill, was bred in Ireland by Ballylinch Stud in County Kilkenny. Ballylinch Stud is part of the Mount Juliet Estate, which dates back to the 1750s and was the retirement home of the famed "Spotted Wonder," The Tetrarch.

Purchased for approximately $64,000 at the Tattersalls yearling sale, Chriselliam is owned by the partnership of Emily Asprey, Chris Wright, and Willie Carson. Yes, that Willie Carson, the five-time champion British jockey and winner of 17 British classics before his retirement from the saddle in 1996. But U.S. racing fans might best remember Carson for being involved in one of the most bizarre beats in the history of the Breeders' Cup. Carson was aboard Dayjur in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Sprint and seemed a certain winner when mere yards from the wire, Dayjur jumped a shadow, forcing him to entirely lose his momentum and opening the door for Safely Kept to snare a narrow decision.

Moments after Chriselliam's Juvenile Fillies Turf tour de force, Carson was in an understandably forgiving mood. "Makes up for Dayjur, doesn't it?," he said.