02/19/2015 1:25PM

Eclipse Awards: Turfers no longer eligible in older-male, older-female categories

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Organizers of the Eclipse Awards have made changes to the awards’ voting criteria to emphasize that horses who have made all or most of their starts on turf should no longer be eligible to win the champion older male or older female Eclipse Awards, the organizers said Thursday.

Under new guidelines going into effect for 2015, the criteria for the starts that will be considered in both older male and female categories “will be limited to dirt or main-track races,” the organizers said. “Main-track” in this case refers to artificial surfaces.

A committee comprised of a representative of each of the three blocs that vote for the awards will use the dirt and main-track performances to determine whether candidates for the awards are included in the supplemental information distributed to the voters, said Jim Mulvihill, a spokesman for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, one of the organizations that administers the awards.

Also, both categories will be renamed the “Older Dirt Male” and “Older Dirt Female” Eclipse Awards, the organizers said, to emphasize to voters that dirt and main-track performances should be the main criteria.

“There has been a growing consensus among members of the three voting organizations to more clearly define the older-horse categories in determining male and female champions on dirt and turf,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of the NTRA and a member of the Eclipse Awards steering committee. “Older male and female turf horses will continue to compete for the turf championships in their gender divisions, while the older male and female dirt horses will compete strictly against horses on the dirt or main track surfaces in their respective divisions. All are eligible for the Horse of the Year category. ”