01/10/2002 12:00AM

Point Given bags 3-year-old Eclipse


Point Given, who dominated the 3-year-old division last year, and 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow, who became the first horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic twice, are the for 2001 Horse of the Year, along with the unbeaten 2-year-old colt Johannesburg, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Thursday.

The winners of the Eclipse Awards will be announced at a black-tie dinner at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort in Miami Beach, Fla., on Feb. 18. Winners of media Eclipse Awards were previously announced. The only other Eclipse Award winners yet to be announced are for the Eclipse Award of Merit and a Special Eclipse Award. The winners of both are expected to be announced next week.

The surprise in the Horse of the Year category was Johannesburg, but not much should be read into that, as three finalists must be announced in each division, if possible. Johannesburg should finish well behind front-runners Point Given and Tiznow, each of whom has worthy credentials to be named Horse of the Year.

Point Given won six times in seven starts last year, including five Grade 1 races - the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Haskell Invitational, and Travers Stakes. His lone loss came when he was beaten as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

Tiznow, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in the spring, returned from a back injury to capture the Breeders' Cup Classic for the second straight year. He was the 2000 Horse of the Year, in large part because of his victory in that year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

Johannesburg, who is based in Ireland, completed a perfect season by capturing the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, part of the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.

There is only one "finalist" for champion 3-year-old colt. Point Given received every vote cast by members of Daily Racing Form, the NTRA, and the National Turf Writers Association, the three voting blocs. The NTWA had 128 voters, the NTRA 52, and DRF 50.

Tiznow is the overwhelming favorite to be named champion older horse. He is a finalist in that category, along with Lido Palace, who won the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes last year, and Sakhee, who finished second to Tiznow in the Breeders' Cup Classic in his lone start in this country. The most glaring omission in the older horse category is Aptitude, who was the division's leader until his poor performance in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Johannesburg is clearly the favorite to be named champion 2-year-old colt. The other finalists in that category are Champagne Stakes winner Officer and Hollywood Futurity winner Siphonic, both of whom Johannesburg defeated in the Breeders' Cup.

There were few surprises among the finalists. The two most difficult categories for voters were those for 3-year-old filly and for older filly or mare, because there was no standout in either division.

The finalists for champion 3-year-old filly are the ill-fated Exogenous, Kentucky Oaks winner Flute, and the outstanding sprinter Xtra Heat. Those who failed to make the cut include Grade 1 winners Affluent, Fleet Renee, and Golden Ballet, as well as Unbridled Elaine, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Champion older filly or mare will be decided among Gourmet Girl, Spain, and Tranquility Lake, all of whom had good, but not brilliant, seasons. Failing to make the top three were Lazy Slusan, Miss Linda, and Pompeii. All three won Grade 1 races last year, but, like the finalists, failed to consistently turn in brilliant performances.

Both Xtra Heat and Tranquility Lake are finalists in two categories. In addition to vying for champion 3-year-old filly, Xtra Heat is a finalist in her specialty, sprinting. Her rivals there are Delaware Township, the De Francis Memorial winner, and the division's favorite, Squirtle Squirt, who won the Breeders' Cup Sprint over both Xtra Heat and Delaware Township.

Tranquility Lake is also a finalist for champion female turf runner with a pair of European imports who won important races in this country, Banks Hill and Lailani. Banks Hill, the runaway winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, is the favorite.

Another European import, Fantastic Light, is favored to be named champion male turf horse. Fantastic Light, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf, is a finalist, along with Val Royal, the Breeders' Cup Mile winner, and two-time Grade 1 winner With Anticipation.

Tempera, like Fantastic Light owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing Inc., is favored to be named champion 2-year-old filly over finalists Habibti and You, both of whom Tempera defeated in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The finalists for champion steeplechase horse are Lord Zada, Pompeyo, and Praise the Prince.

Jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer Bobby Frankel, both of whom won Eclipse Awards in 2000, are favored to repeat in 2001. Bailey, who set a single-season purse earnings record last year, is a finalist along with Ramon Dominguez, Laffit Pincay Jr., and John Velazquez. The presence of four finalists in this category indicates there is a tie for third place.

Frankel, who won 18 Grade 1 races last year, is a finalist along with Bob Baffert, Point Given's trainer, and Scott Lake. Tiznow's trainer, Jay Robbins, was not among the top three receiving votes.

There are four finalists for champion apprentice jockey, again indicating a tie for third place. Jeremy Rose is the favorite. The other finalists are Julian Pimentel, Kris Prather, and Hector Rosario Jr.

Saudi Arabian-based powerhouses Juddmonte Farms (Prince Khalid Adbullah) and The Thoroughbred Corporation (Prince Ahmed bin Salman) are finalists for both champion owner and champion breeder. Juddmonte's Eclipse finalists are Banks Hill, Flute, and the stable's primary trainer, Frankel. The Thoroughbred Corporation campaigned Point Given, as well as Habibti, Officer, and Spain.

The other finalist for champion owner is Richard Englander, who won more races than anyone last year. The other finalist for champion breeder is Harry T. Mangurian Jr.'s Mockingbird Farm, which produced more race winners than any other breeder.

for detailed profiles and past performances for each of the 2001 Eclipse Awards finalists.

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