Updated on 09/16/2011 6:51AM

Point Given wins Horse of the Year


MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Point Given, the charismatic chestnut colt who swept to four consecutive Grade 1 victories last summer, including two legs of the Triple Crown, on Monday night was named the 2001 Horse of the Year at the black-tie Eclipse Awards dinner at the Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel.

Point Given carried all three voting blocs - Daily Racing Form, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the National Turf Writers Association - to beat out fellow finalists Tiznow and Johannesburg.

The voting reflected a showdown between Point Given* and Tiznow*, but Point Given was the clear preference. He beat Tiznow by 35-13 among voters from Daily Racing Form, 35-17 in the NTRA bloc, and 86-35 with the turf writers.

Johannesburg* finished third with four first-place votes - one from Daily Racing Form and three from the turf writers. The turf writers also cast individual first-place votes for Horse of the Year for Fantastic Light, Sahkee, and Xtra Heat. One turf writer and one Daily Racing Form member abstained from the Horse of the Year vote.

Point Given, Tiznow, and Johannesburg all won divisional titles. As announced previously, Point Given was a unanimous choice for champion 3-year-old colt. Tiznow, who won the Breeders' Cup Classic for the second straight year, was named champion older horse. And Johannesburg, who completed an undefeated season with his victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, was named champion 2-year-old colt.

Other divisional Eclipse Award winners were Tempera* (2-year-old filly), Xtra Heat* (3-year-old filly), Gourmet Girl* (older filly or mare), Fantastic Light* (male turf horse), Banks Hill* (female turf horse), Squirtle Squirt* (sprinter), and the late Pompeyo* (steeplechase horse).

The winners largely reflected the importance of the Breeders' Cup.

Banks Hill, Fantastic Light, Johannesburg, Squirtle Squirt, Tempera, and Tiznow all won Breeders' Cup races, and Xtra Heat was a heralded second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The only Breeders' Cup winners who did not win Eclipse Awards were Val Royal, who won the Mile but lost out in the vote for male turf horse to Fantastic Light, and Unbridled Elaine, who won the Distaff but was not even a finalist for champion 3-year-old filly.

Individual award winners included jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer Bobby Frankel, both of whom also won in 2000. Jeremy Rose was named champion apprentice jockey. Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms was named champion breeder, while Richard Englander was named champion owner, beating out Juddmonte in a split vote.

Point Given, who was bred and owned by Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation, was the most popular horse who raced in this country last year. He entered the year as one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby, based on his narrow loss in the previous year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. And in his first two starts of the year, he did nothing to alter his position as the Derby favorite, winning the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, and the Santa Anita Derby.

But in the Kentucky Derby, Point Given raced too close to the early pace and lost his punch, finishing fifth as the 9-5 favorite. That would be the last loss of his career, and his only loss of the year.

Point Given redeemed himself in the Preakness Stakes, winning by 2 1/4 lengths, then turned in what may have been the best race of his career in the Belmont Stakes, which he won by 12 1/4 lengths in an overpowering performance.

Bob Baffert, who trained Point Given, sent his colt to the East Coast for his next two starts. Point Given, who was suffering from a sore left rear hoof, had not been trained aggressively prior to Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational, but he won narrowly after a rousing stretch duel.

Point Given returned to train at Del Mar, then was sent East again, to Saratoga, where he easily won the Travers Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths. That was his sixth victory of the year - five of which were in Grade 1 races - in seven starts.

It also was his final start. Less than a week after the Travers, Point Given was found to have an injured ligament. He was immediately retired to stud, with a record of nine victories in 13 starts, and earnings of $3,968,500.

The Eclipse Award rules mirror this nation's electoral college, in that each voting bloc counts as a distinct entity. All three blocs voted for the same winners in every category, with the exception of owner, breeder, and steeplechase horse, which were decided by two blocs to one. In each of those instances, the winner turned out to be the one who got the most overall votes, though overall votes do not take precedent over the bloc votes.

Englander, whose far-flung stable won more races and more money than any owner last year, was the choice of both the turf writers, by a 43-39 margin, and the NTRA, by 33-10. Daily Racing Form's voters preferred Juddmonte by 24-15 over Englander.

Juddmonte won a close vote for champion breeder, edging the Mockingbird Farm of longtime Florida powerhouse Harry T. Mangurian. The turf writers preferred Juddmonte by 66-53 over Mangurian, and Daily Racing Form voters went for Juddmonte by a 24-18 margin. Mangurian was the choice of the NTRA, by 26-19 over Juddmonte.

The evening was not a total loss for Mangurian. In part because of a $1 million donation he made to the NTRA-New York Heroes Fund in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedies, he was presented with the Eclipse Award of Merit. Southern California senior steward Pete Pedersen also received an Eclipse Award of Merit.

In the steeplechase division, Pompeyo edged Praise the Prince. Pompeyo was preferred by Daily Racing Form voters by 23-9, and by the NTRA by a 17-14 margin. Praise the Prince carried the turf writers' bloc, by 37-25 over Pompeyo.

Also Monday evening, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum - whose Godolphin Racing Inc. campaigned divisional champions Fantastic Light and Tempera - was acknowledged with a Special Eclipse Award for donating $5 million to the NTRA-New York Heroes Fund. And the winners of Eclipse Awards for writing, radio, and television were presented with their trophies.

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