01/17/2015 11:27PM

California Chrome captures Horse of the Year title

Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome took home Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – California Chrome proved as popular with Eclipse Award voters as he was with the general public, earning titles as both Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male at the 44th annual Eclipse Awards dinner Saturday night at Gulfstream Park.

California Chrome outpolled fellow Horse of the Year finalists Main Sequence and Bayern. California Chrome received 143 votes; Main Sequence, 53; Bayern, 36; Shared Belief, 12; Untapable, 11; Wise Dan, 6; Adelaide, 1; and Take Charge Brandi, 1. There were two voter abstentions.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which includes Equibase. There were 280 eligible voters, with 265 returning ballots.

California Chrome also defeated Bayern for champion male 3-year-old. Main Sequence won a pair of divisional titles as champion male turf horse and champion older male.

California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Santa Anita Derby, and Hollywood Derby, lost two of three head-to-head meetings against Bayern, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but his overall body of work was widely embraced by voters. In balloting for champion 3-year-old male, California Chrome defeated Bayern by a surprisingly large margin, 193-56. Shared Belief received 15 votes, and one voter abstained.

:: 2014 ECLIPSE AWARDS: Winners, vote totals, and profiles

California Chrome won four Grade 1 races, equaling the most of any horse in the country last year, and he was the only horse to win Grade 1 races on both dirt and turf. He becomes the first California-bred to win Horse of the Year since Tiznow in 2000.

Main Sequence – who won all four of his races, all Grade 1, all on turf – was an expected easy winner as champion male turf horse and outpolled dirt specialist Palace Malice for champion older male, too, a double pulled off in 2012 and 2013 by Wise Dan. In both those years, Wise Dan also was voted Horse of the Year.

Main Sequence got 243 out of the 265 first-place votes for male turf horse. He defeated Palace Malice by 127-103 in balloting for champion older male, with three other horses splitting the other 35 votes in that category.

The only horse who was a unanimous selection for a divisional title was Untapable, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff, who received all 265 votes for champion 3-year-old filly.

Other equine divisional winners were American Pharoah (2-year-old male), Take Charge Brandi (2-year-old filly), Close Hatches (older female), Work All Week (male sprinter), Judy the Beauty (female sprinter), Dayatthespa (female turf horse), and Demonstrative (steeplechase horse).

American Pharoah was the narrowest individual winner, outpolling Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red by just 15 votes, 126-111. American Pharoah missed the Breeders’ Cup with an injury after beating Texas Red in the FrontRunner Stakes.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey won Eclipse Awards as both champion owner and champion breeder. Todd Pletcher won his record seventh Eclipse Award as champion trainer, and Javier Castellano was voted champion jockey for the second straight year. Drayden Van Dyke won the Eclipse Award for champion apprentice jockey.

In the human categories, it seemed a plurality of voters decided simply to reward the people who won the most money in those respective divisions. Neither the Ramseys nor Pletcher were associated with any horses who won divisional titles, though Pletcher-trained Palace Malice was second for champion older male.

By contrast, even though California Chrome and Main Sequence were the stars of the evening – and thus 2014 – they apparently did it without the help of their trainer, jockey, owner, or breeder.

Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome, was third in voting for champion trainer with 45 votes, behind Pletcher (100) and Chad Brown (64), while Graham Motion, trainer of Main Sequence, finished fifth with 13 votes.

John Velazquez, who rode Main Sequence to his win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and led all jockeys in Grade 1 victories with 13, was second with 34 votes to Castellano, who was a lopsided winner with 203 votes. Victor Espinoza, rider of California Chrome, was sixth with 4 votes. Espinoza also rode divisional champions American Pharoah and Take Charge Brandi, so he was associated with three Eclipse Award winners. Castellano, the regular rider for Dayatthespa, and Espinoza each won nine Grade 1 races.

The Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings Ltd, which bred and owns Main Sequence, could only manage to finish fourth in voting for both breeder and owner. Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, who own and bred California Chrome, finished sixth for owner and fifth for breeder.

Similarly, it seemed the Breeders’ Cup was the title-decider for voters in previously open categories like male sprinter, female sprinter, and female turf horse – with the winners of those respective Breeders’ Cup races all winning divisional titles by large margins – yet a win in the controversial Breeders’ Cup Classic could not get Bayern over the hump.

One of the gratifying aspects of the evening is the realization that Bayern, California Chrome, and Main Sequence all are remaining in training for 2015, so perhaps this debate will rage anew a year from now.

Also Saturday night, previously announced awards for media winners were presented, including Daily Racing Form’s Barbara Livingston for photography. Tom Durkin received the Eclipse Award of Merit, and Old Friends Farm, represented by founder Michael Blowen, received a Special Eclipse Award. Jose Arias, winner of last year’s Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, was honored as the handicapper of the year.

Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
hey mike
mike More than 1 year ago
Scotty What jealous idiots you and your wife are. You can't spell class.
P Davis More than 1 year ago
California Chrome was the right choice, the only choice for Horse of the Year. He ran in all the top races, the TC, the BC and won 4 G1's on dirt and turf. He ran from Jan -Nov. No other horse accomplished what he did this year. 9 stakes races -6 Stakes wins-2 classics-and his win on turf allows him to join the immortal Secretariat as the only other horse to win a G1 on turf the same year as winning the Kentucky Derby. He is the peoples choice(minus the lowlife losers) and the eclipse voters choice by a landslide. He is the one, the only California Chrome!
M More than 1 year ago
Big score for CA Breeding... Hope he keeps winning in US and around globe to 6-7 YO ( maybe 8 figure winnings)... Then hope he stands stud in CA with black type Cal bred and based mares preferred.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Folks, Do you really believe it was Scott Stevens or his wife really making those comments? I highly doubt it. Folks in the industry rarely take public shots at each other. They usually stand together. However, taking shots at horseplayers is different topic altogether. Track operators, owners, trainers do that quite often.
mike More than 1 year ago
Check the clowns grammar/spelling Walter.
Jana Hailey More than 1 year ago
I love all horse so I don't want to speak badly of any of them, but Bayern, as good as he is, wasn't even in the same ballgame as CC. To think that the fact that he beat CC after CC's grueling TC campaign places him ahead in Horse of the Year consideration is ludicrous. Additionally, CC captured America's heart. I flew to NY from FL to see CC run in the Belmont for the first time in almost 30 years of being a horse racing fan. As for the owners, no they aren't of the horse racing "elite". Nonetheless that doesn't deter from their investment in the sport. True, Mr Coburn made some unfortunate comments following the Belmont - even though not entirely untrue. And he has apologized profusely for that momentary lack of judgement. What some people don't seem to realize or understand is that "these people" bred CC, raised CC from a baby, and brought him to the races to begin a Fairytale trip almost ending in a Triple Crown win. This was not just business as usual for them. Their hearts were invested - from the day CC was foaled. I understand that the comments came from a broken heart because of the love and disappointment FOR California Chrome. As for the "Dumb Ass Partners" - the owners rather than take offense to people's opinions as to their interest in the sport, they light-heartedly took that name and ran with it. I love it! That is something that perhaps the "blue bloods" can't understand, but the average racing fan certainly can.
mike More than 1 year ago
Great comments and I totally agree. I would rather shake hands with Steve than Barry Irwin.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Hi C.C.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
mike More than 1 year ago
Russell,totally agree with your comments. Remember you're attempting to bestow logic on a jealous idiot.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
This is Scott's wife. First of all, I would not be looking on a blog that said anything derogatory regarding my husband. I know who we are and I would not have to defend him because he is upstanding and respectful to everyone. You people tried to bully your way into the horse racing tradition and you were disrespectful to the honor of the sport. Naming your stables Dumb Ass and coming into the horse racing arena like you were Wild Bill Cody and signing autographs. Who are you people? True class is staying true to tradition and honoring the horse athletes. That's who it is about,,,not you. PS,,Black tie optional is just a formality. Everyone knows that you wear black tie when you go to classy events.
mike More than 1 year ago
You should be ashamed to ignore the insults your husband threw @ Coburn. Envy can sometimes be a green eyed monster. He obviously needs you to aid and assist in his battles since he refuses to answer my comments as well as others. Question? Just who is "you people"? Here's a little newsflash,Coburn/Martin found success in one year while many like your arrogant husband chase a lifetime without ever realizing. I'm sure you two are experts on black tie optional @ "classy events",probably by reading about them. eye roll
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
New flash to you we don't need or want the fan fair we just go about our business with our 400k in racing stock. Were not chasing anything or any one just chasing the last horse in front of us, and have a great time doing it...We are a team, and have a wonderful time together something you or those PEOPLE know nothing about. Obviously you know really nothing about the sport probably a 2.00 show better just trying to grab .80 for a cup of coffee another ignoramus how that for eye roll.
mike More than 1 year ago
Think you meant how's instead of how. What a joke,attempting to convince the world you're connected in the sport when you two spell and compose sentences like you flunked the third grade. My advice repeat grade school.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
hey c. sucker
Maureen Meldon More than 1 year ago
I knew I'd get pulled further into the to fray...should have stayed a lurker! I would say it's harder to find anyone who honors the equine sport of racing and it's athletes more than Coburn/Perry and Sherman Racing. Check out The Chrome Diaries on CC's Facebook page.
mike More than 1 year ago
Maureen,if Scotty& wifey cared so much about this sport they would realize what Chrome/connections have brought to the table. They simply don't care.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Dear 2.00 bridge jumper( if you know what that means)What did they bring to table??? Hillillies that hit the lottery nothing more nothing less, and PEOPLE like you who that absolutely know nothing about the sport you that has nothing better to do with his time idiot.
mike More than 1 year ago
Very difficult to take you both seriously when your friggin grammar and spelling needs work. Did you both pass grade school? BTW,what do you bring to the table? That's what I thought.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Not really we have over 400k in racing stock i would debate that..., but most importantly what about his wife is that honor, and what about the connections of Tonalist, Richard Evans, Christopher Clement??
P Davis More than 1 year ago
Cry me a river. California Chrome waltzed out of those awards with THREE Eclipses to add to the Secretariat Vox Populi and his Woodlawn vase and Kentucky Derby Trophy. Eat your heart out!
Walter More than 1 year ago
A win on BC day doesn't guarantee anything, just look at the 2yo title the last two years. CC deserved HOY in 2014. He won the biggest race in the US, the KY derby. He also won three other G1 races in addition. What else do you expect from this horse? Best part of this debate is it is not over! CC, Bayern, & SB are all running this year, we get to see them compete again. A rarity in horse racing these days when many stars retire early.
Maureen Meldon More than 1 year ago
It's a numbers game - for 2014 CC went 9-6-0-1 with 4 G1 wins, 1sts in fields from 6 to 19, one less race than Bayern with the same # of 1sts. Bayern went 10-6-1-1 with 2 G1 wins, 1sts in fields from 5 to 14. Throw out the fact Coburn isn't a favored owner and Bayern plays bumper cars and CC still has better numbers,
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Maureen, I get it CC won HOY. But, based on your reasoning you are way off. If it's a numbers game...let me see...Bayern won more money...OH, and beat CC twice to CC's once. And even if folks cry about the start of the BC Classic...no one benefited more from that than CC AND Bayern STILL beat him. Fact is CC won the HOY vote. Good for him.....but he was no where near the best horse. Heck, Untapable would even beat him, never mind Bayern...and Main Sequence would rip his heart out. Let's see CC win in open company before we declare him great. So, far he's never done it.....I truly think he never will. Besides those mentioned....Shared Belief will inhale him.
Maureen Meldon More than 1 year ago
Hey, you have your numbers and I have mine! Guess we'll see who beats whom this year.
mike More than 1 year ago
You've lost your mind stating Untapable would beat CC. How do you know until they line up? Silly me forgot you have a crystal ball. It's over,get over it the voters have spoken. Sometimes things don't work out your way.
Ahsan Khan More than 1 year ago
Mike is absolutely right......CC showed to be more versatile and he'll only get stronger and more massive during his 4th year campaign.
mike More than 1 year ago
Ahsan, thanks!!!!