01/05/2018 12:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Rushing Fall

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The Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly has been the exclusive property of dirt performers. This is understandable. Dirt racing is still the big game in U.S. Thoroughbred racing. But there has been a shift in recent years in the philosophy of the Eclipse Award electorate to one that is bound less by tradition, is more inclusive, and, as a result, is more accepting of turf performers.

For evidence, consider the winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, a race introduced in 2008. Only two of the first five Juvenile Fillies Turf winners – Maram in 2008 and Stephanie’s Kitten in 2011 – collected enough votes to be finalists for the 2-year-old filly Eclipse Award. But each of the next four Juvenile Fillies Turf winners – Chriselliam, Lady Eli, Catch a Glimpse, and New Money Honey – were divisional Eclipse Award finalists.

Rushing Fall, who extended her unbeaten streak to three with a determined score in the 2017 Juvenile Fillies Turf, has made it five straight winners of this Breeders’ Cup event to be an Eclipse Award finalist. And Rushing Fall’s trainer, Chad Brown, feels she might be the one to finally break through and score one for the turf specialists. Brown also trained Maram, Lady Eli, and New Money Honey.

“To potentially give a 2-year-old championship to a turf horse, it hasn’t happened yet,” Brown told Daily Racing Form the day after the Breeders’ Cup. “But I think Rushing Fall would probably be the best chance for that to happen for the first time.”

Rushing Fall has been held in high regard from the get-go. She was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of 12 in her debut in September on Belmont’s Widener turf course, and she won with a sudden off-the-pace turn of foot. But just how talented Rushing Fall truly is became abundantly clear following her 3 1/4-length score in the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, and in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar.

“Extremely impressive, but I’m not surprised,” Brown said after the Jessamine. “She identified herself as special the first time she breezed on the turf for us.”

Rushing Fall races for Bob Edwards’s e Five Racing Thoroughbreds. After the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Edwards said: “Chad was confident. When he saw her last winter, he said, ‘I’ll take her to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Rushing Fall, by More Than Ready and out of Autumnal, by Forestry, was bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertrich III and John Fielding. She was purchased by Edwards for $320,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale on the strong advice of agent Mike Ryan, who signed the sales slip.