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Eclipse Awards: Wise Dan repeats as Horse of the Year
By Jay Privman
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.
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).
I believe Wise Dan deserved Horse of the Year. But I will say this the BC sprint is also an original Breeders Cup race. By voting for Wise Dan you are setting up a time where a six furlong sprinter will win horse of the year. Something we should all think about, can a sprinter win Horse of the year? Is there a seven race campaign good enough for horse of the year? Could an undefeated sprinter win horse of the year last year?
Fittingly the Eclipse fiasco has become as boring as the game itself. Stick a fork in it!
so much ignorance. WISE DAN was voted horse of the year because he was the best horse last year. Next year it will probably be between MUCHO MACHO MAN and WILL TAKE CHARGE .unless they get injured and retire early in which case if WISE DAN comes back and wins 4 gr1 races again in easy fashion he will take it again.
They have SEPERATE catagory for Older Turf Male. Which to me means Older Male is for Dirt. Why couldn't MMM or Game on Dude won older Male and Wise Dan still won Older Turf and Horse of year???
IF Wise Dan is so good then let him compete with MMM.
Wise Dan is a good horse but his consecutive HOY honors are not fully up to the high standard set by other' previous winners; nor was his win as older male horse. W.D. had no real competition in the turf grass mile. Most likely he has distance limitations and would not have beaten a few at the longer distance. He will need to do more than rest on the laurels of the Eclipse. Anyone else outside the beltway may have seen on the Eclipse show a few good things about horse racing but mostly what is wrong. Excluding Lukas, Stevens, and a few others, who are national figures in the sport, the Eclipse show seemed to be one long promo for Gulfstream Race Track, DRF, and a few other sponsors. Some of the announcers sounded obsequious in the way they spoke. They no doubt recognize that the ones that run the horse racing industry are a handful, including the handful of sponsors of the Eclipse and its dreary, outdated show. Any other sport, for example, baseball, basketball, etc., would have tried to at least give the appearance that the Eclipse Awards and its show and announcers, etc. are not beholden to the ones that pay their bills. The bottom line is that the East Coast bias is still very much in play. Especially in bestowing three Eclipse awards to Wise Dan. Someone voted for Royal Delta and even Princess of Sylmar as HOY. Even though Beholder beat both of them in head on competition. Hovdey who was so quick to criticize the last call by Stauffer at Hollywood Park, where are his comments about the Eclipse Show; but he works for DRF.
Wise Dan, Frankel, Black Caviar..... Wise Dan, great horse first, great miler Frankel, great horse first, great miler Black Caviar, great horse first, great sprinter Wise Dan is now being compared to legends like Forego, Kelso, John Henry, Affirmed, Secretariat, Curlin etc etc because of the FACT that he has won back to back HOY. Frankel to legends like Ribot, Dancing Brave, Sea The Stars, Mill Reef etc etc Black Caviar to Makybe Diva, Phar Lap. Sometimes the facts obscure the truth! The aim of breeding a Thoroughbred (use to be anyways) is to hopefully breed a HORSE with both speed and stamina. Capable of beating sprinters sprinting AND stayers staying. The truth is that the staying part that is the most difficult to attain. The DNA shift is towards speed over shorter distances. The breeding for the last decade or so have lessen to produce the ideal type of thoroughbred and that is why we have more sprinting and mile races and the exposure of mediocre stayers in ever declining numbers of staying races. The truth is sprinting and miling is not what the THOROUGHBRED was meant to be. We are now breeding towards quarterhorses, paying premium $$s for horses that can run fast 1 furlongs at stock sales. Breeding world class stayers is paramount if we want true THOROUGHBREDS.
A BIG congrats to Wise Dan and his tremendous year. Now Mr.Fink. Go for the F**KING Arlington Million this year!!!!.
Its just another awards show of the season...The SAG awards were last nite also
Nice show, very professionally done by HRTV. The two most poignant highlights of the show were the much deserved award by the deceased sprinter Points and Pletcher's well timed words of loss for the passing of Caixa Electronica. The veteran sprinter personified the game. The show also will serve as a preclude to Willis Horton's second career as a stand up comic or reality show star.
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