01/18/2014 10:32PM

Eclipse Awards: Wise Dan repeats as Horse of the Year

Barbara D. Livingston
Wise Dan was named Horse of the Year for the second consecutive year Saturday at the Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – For Wise Dan, winning Eclipse Awards is as easy as one, two, three.

Wise Dan completed an unprecedented trifecta Saturday night, becoming the first horse to win three Eclipse Awards in consecutive years by making off with titles as 2013 Horse of the Year, champion older male, and champion male turf horse – the same categories he swept in 2012 – at the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park.

Wise Dan won Horse of the Year over fellow finalists Will Take Charge, who was named champion 3-year-old male, and Mucho Macho Man, who finished second to Wise Dan in voting for champion older male. Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge finished one-two, in that order, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Wise Dan won 6 of 7 starts last year, including a repeat victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. All his wins were on turf. His only loss came in his only start on a synthetic surface, in the Shadwell Turf Mile, which was rained off the grass at Keeneland.

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, whose bloc includes racing secretaries and employees of Equibase. There were 272 eligible voters, and 249 returned ballots. The votes of all three blocs are pooled. A point system was used to determine three finalists in every division – which were announced earlier this month – but the winner is strictly the one who receives the most first-place votes.

Wise Dan received 208 first-place votes for Horse of the Year to 21 for Mucho Macho Man and 15 for Will Take Charge. Others receiving votes were Dank, Princess of Sylmar, and Royal Delta, who each received one vote. Two voters abstained.

[Eclipse Awards: Winner profiles and vote totals]

Other equine Eclipse Award winners announced Saturday night were Shared Belief (2-year-old male), She’s a Tiger (2-year-old filly), Beholder (3-year-old filly), Royal Delta (older female), Points Offthebench (male sprinter), Groupie Doll (female sprinter), Dank (female turf), and Divine Fortune (steeplechaser).

The victory by Will Take Charge was the record 25th Eclipse Award claimed by a trainee of D. Wayne Lukas, who was honored Saturday night with the Eclipse Award of Merit.

Beholder, Groupie Doll, and Royal Delta – like Wise Dan – all were Eclipse Award winners last year. Beholder in 2012 was the champion 2-year-old filly. She became the first filly to win titles at ages 2 and 3 since Silverbulletday in 1998-99.

Groupie Doll and Royal Delta both repeated in the same divisions as 2012. For Royal Delta, it was her third straight Eclipse Award. She was the champion 3-year-old filly of 2011.

The Eclipse Award winners among the humans were Todd Pletcher (trainer), Javier Castellano (jockey), Victor Carrasco (apprentice jockey), and Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who won as both champion owner and champion breeder.

For Pletcher, it was his record sixth training title. Castellano picked up his first Eclipse Award. Both men led their brethren in earnings restricted to starts in North America last year. Neither Pletcher nor Castellano had any horses they trained or rode win an Eclipse Award.

In similar incongruity, the trainer of Wise Dan, Charles LoPresti, only finished in a tie for fifth in his division, and Morton Fink, who bred and owns Wise Dan, finished a distant third in first-place votes for both champion breeder and champion owner.

Most of the categories were lopsided, but two were relatively close. The unbeaten Shared Belief outpolled Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day by 115-99 in voting for champion 2-year-old male. And in voting for champion older male, Wise Dan received 123 first-place votes to 93 for Mucho Macho Man.

The three blocs split their votes for 2-year-old male. The NTRA went for New Year’s Day by 38-30, but Shared Belief was preferred by both the DRF (31-25) and NTWAB (54-36).

Wise Dan was first among all three blocs for older male.

Wise Dan was a runaway winner as champion male turf horse. He received 243 votes to 4 for second-place Magician.

Dank was an easy winner for champion female turf horse, with 229 votes to 8 for Laughing and Mizdirection, who finished in a tie for second. But voters did not embrace Dank for older female as they did Wise Dan for older male. Royal Delta got 234 votes for champion older female, with Dank second with just 5 votes.

The Breeders’ Cup Distaff proved pivotal in deciding champion 3-year-old filly, with the victorious Beholder outpolling Princess of Sylmar by 207-42.

Groupie Doll parlayed her repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint to her title. She received 192 first-place votes to 45 for Mizdirection, who repeated in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

The late Points Offthebench won the male sprint championship with 125 votes to 70 for Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Secret Circle.

Will Take Charge easily outpolled Kentucky Derby winner Orb for champion 3-year-old male, 231 votes to 15.

She’s a Tiger’s body of work made up for her disqualification in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and she easily won her division with 212 votes to 15 for Chriselliam, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, and 10 for Ria Antonia, who was promoted to first on the disqualification of She’s a Tiger in the Breeders’ Cup.

Pletcher was an easy winner as champion trainer, with 183 votes. Lukas was second with 21.

Castellano received 134 first-place votes to win champion jockey. Gary Stevens, whose brilliant comeback year included victories in the Preakness, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff, was second with 65.

The Ramseys were overwhelming winners as owner – in which they received 235 of the 249 votes – and breeder, in which they received 221 votes.

Carrasco received 172 votes to easily win the apprentice title.

Divine Fortune beat second-place Italian Wedding by 112-27 for champion steeplechaser.

Also Saturday night, a Special Eclipse Award was presented to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Mucho Macho Man’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was acknowledged as the NTRA Moment of the Year, and media Eclipse Awards were presented to Marty McGee of Daily Racing Form (feature writing), Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form (news writing), Jamie Radosevich-Hernandez (photography), NBC (live television), HRTV (television feature), and The New York Times (multi-media).