10/23/2005 11:00PM

Eclipse Awards up for grabs on big day

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NEW YORK - There is plenty at stake in Saturday's Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, not the least of which is $14 million in purse money. But there is even more on the line. With almost every divisional championship still up for grabs, the results of the eight Breeders' Cup races will play a huge role in clarifying this year's Eclipse Award picture.

With that in mind, let's look at a few of the divisional scenarios with regard to Saturday's BC races.

Juvenile Fillies - If Adieu, or Folklore, or Wild Fit wins, she likely would clinch a divisional title because each filly already has a Grade 1 victory. With a good effort in defeat to a winner who was not previously ranked among the division leaders, any of these three would still have a good chance at an Eclipse Award, especially if that filly should come back to win a post-Breeders' Cup stakes, such as the Demoiselle, Golden Rod, or Hollywood Starlet. A win by one of the mid-ranked members of the division - such as Original Spin, Diamond Omi, or She Says It Best - would greatly improve her Eclipse Award chances. But depending on how Adieu, Folklore, and Wild Fit perform, a mid-ranked filly BC winner would probably have to come back with another win to secure the title.

Juvenile - The undefeated two-time Grade 1 winner First Samurai has command of this division. A win Saturday would make him a cinch as division champion, and maybe even in a narrow defeat he would still be tough to overtake. But if Sorcerer's Stone, Stevie Wonderboy, or Private Vow wins decisively - and it would have to be decisively - that colt would have an edge, although it would put greater emphasis on post-Breeders' Cup stakes, such as the Remsen, Kentucky Jockey Club, and Hollywood Futurity. Perhaps the most confusing scenario involves a decisive win by Henny Hughes. That type of win on Saturday would put Henny Hughes back on par with First Samurai, to whom he suffered his only two losses.

Filly and Mare Turf - No Breeders' Cup race has a higher success rate than this one in producing champions - five of the race's six winners went on to win an Eclipse. The lack of a dominant horse in this division - Megahertz comes close, but her loss in the Beverly D. was costly - renders all potential scenarios moot except one: the race winner will probably win the division Eclipse.

Sprint - Even though Lost in the Fog has yet to beat even one Grade 1 winner, either a victory or a game effort in defeat would make him a cinch for the sprint title. But if Lost in the Fog is nowhere at the finish, then given the unsettled nature of the sprint division this year, it would probably make this a one-race showdown for the Eclipse.

Mile - This race used to have significant impact on championship voting, but not lately. The last contestant in the Mile to be voted a year-end title was Flawlessly, who finished ninth in the 1993 Mile and who probably would have run in the Filly and Mare Turf instead had it existed then. But it could be different this year, depending on what happens here and in the Turf. A win in the Mile by Leroidesanimaux would be his third Grade 1 victory of the year. It would also complete a perfect campaign and make him the strongest Eclipse Award threat out of the Mile since two-time Mile winner Lure.

Distaff - There is no question that a victory by Ashado, already a three-time Grade 1 winner this year, would land her the older female divisional championship. It is also possible that she could get the title with a sharp effort in defeat, but that would depend on whom she loses to. If either Stellar Jayne or Happy Ticket defeats Ashado, the winner could well snare the championship. The big question here is how the 3-year-olds perform, Sweet Symphony in particular. The 3-year-old filly division is one of the most unsettled ones, and a victory by Sweet Symphony, coupled with her Alabama romp, would make her the champ in her division. But even a respectable second might be enough for Sweet Symphony, as it was for Farda Amiga in 2002.

Turf - A big reason why the Mile is in play this year regarding a divisional Eclipse Award is that the extended-distance segment of the turf division is unsettled. The retirements of Powerscourt and Kitten's Joy have only added to that. The undefeated Shakespeare or the defending Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now, winner of two Grade 1's this season, would be in a position to claim a championship with a win Saturday. But that depends on the quality of the win and what transpires in the Mile. As for the Europeans (Azamour, in particular), a lone win in the Turf could propel one of them to a championship, as has happened in recent years with High Chaparral, Fantastic Light, Kalanisi, and Daylami.

Classic - As with all of Saturday's Breeders' Cup races, there is a variety of potential Eclipse Award scenarios here. But there is no need to confuse the issue, because there is one overriding scenario: if Rock Hard Ten, or Saint Liam, or Borrego wins, he will not only be champion older male, but also in all likelihood the Horse of the Year as well. That's the way it should be in the biggest race on Breeders' Cup Day. But if none of these three wins . . . well, it hurts the head to even think about it.