01/08/2014 11:51AM

Wise Dan named a finalist in three Eclipse Award categories

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Wise Dan, shown scoring a repeat win in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 2, is a finalist for Eclipse Awards in the categories of Horse of the Year, champion older horse and champion male turf horse. He won all three of those awards for 2012.

Wise Dan, who last year became the first horse since John Henry in 1981 to win three Eclipse Awards in the same year, has a chance to do the same thing again this year, having been named a finalist for Horse of the Year, champion older horse, and champion male turf horse – the three categories he won a year ago – when the finalists in all Eclipse Award divisions for 2013 were announced Wednesday.

Wise Dan, who completed his 2013 campaign with a repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, is expected to repeat as Horse of the Year. The other finalists are Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge, the first and second finishers from the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Wise Dan and Mucho Macho Man also square off in the older male category, whose other finalist is Game On Dude, who last year swept the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic.

For turf male, a category in which Wise Dan also is favored to repeat, the other finalists are Magician, the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, and Point of Entry, who was fourth in the BC Turf but won his two other starts, both Grade 1 races.

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 is used to determine the three finalists in every division, but the winner is strictly the one who receives the most first-place votes.

The winners will be announced at the 43rd Eclipse Awards dinner Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park.

[Profiles of 2013 Eclipse Award finalists]

Wise Dan won six times in seven starts in 2013, including victories in four Grade 1 races, all 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. He finished second to Silver Max.

Wise Dan was bred and is owned by Morton Fink, who is a finalist for champion breeder along with Ken and Sarah Ramsey and the Adena Springs operation of Frank Stronach.

Fink was not among the finalists for owner, which will be decided among the Ramseys, the Juddmonte Farms of Prince Khalid Abdullah, and the Midwest Thoroughbreds stable of Richard and Karen Papiese.

The Ramseys are favored to win both champion owner and breeder.

Charles LoPresti, the trainer of Wise Dan, was not among the finalists in his division, which will be decided among Bob Baffert, Bill Mott, and Todd Pletcher, who is favored to win based on his leading the nation in both purse earnings and Grade 1 wins in 2013.

While Will Take Charge is considered an underdog to Wise Dan for Horse of the Year, he is favored to be named champion 3-year-old male, a division whose other finalists are Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner, and Palace Malice, the Belmont Stakes winner.

Several categories are considered close. Beholder, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner, and Princess of Sylmar, who won the Kentucky Oaks, are the leading contenders for champion 3-year-old filly, a division whose other finalist is Close Hatches.

Similarly, New Year’s Day, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, and Shared Belief, the undefeated winner of the CashCall Futurity, are the top contenders for champion male 2-year-old, whose other finalist is Havana.

Male sprinter is seen as a close call between Points Offthebench, a two-time Grade 1 winner who died in his final work for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and Secret Circle, who won the BC Sprint. The other finalist in that category is Sahara Sky, whose biggest win of 2013 came in the Met Mile.

She’s a Tiger is favored to be named champion 2-year-old filly despite losing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies via disqualification. Ria Antonia, promoted via the disqualification, and Chriselliam, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, are the other finalists. Not making the cut was Streaming, the unbeaten winner of the Hollywood Starlet, whose past performances were not included in the original supplemental material sent to voters.

Similarly, the omission of Authenticity’s past performances from the candidates for champion older female left her out of the top three in a category in which Royal Delta is heavily favored to beat fellow finalists Joyful Victory and Tiz Miz Sue. If Royal Delta wins, it would mark her third Eclipse Award.

Also expected to repeat as champion is Groupie Doll, who won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint for the second straight year. Her fellow finalists for female sprinter are Dance to Bristol and Mizdirection, who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint against males.

Mizdirection also is a finalist for champion female turf horse, a category in which Dank, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner, is a heavy favorite. The other finalist in that category is Laughing, who tragically died Tuesday from colic.

Voters had some surprising omissions in voting for champion jockey. Neither Mike Smith, who won more Grade 1 races than any other jockey last year, nor John Velazquez, the regular rider for Wise Dan, is among the finalists for champion jockey, a category in which Gary Stevens is favored to add to his already-gaudy comeback tale. The other finalists are Javier Castellano, who won more money than any other rider in 2013, and Joel Rosario, who won the Kentucky Derby.

The finalists for champion apprentice jockey are Victor Carrasco, Manuel Franco, and Edgard Zayas.

Steeplechase champion will be decided among Divine Fortune, Gustavian, and Italian Wedding.

In addition to those awards, the Eclipse dinner will feature presentations to winners, all previously announced, of media Eclipse Awards, the Eclipse Award of Merit, and a Special Eclipse Award. The Handicapper of the Year and the NTRA Moment of the Year also will be acknowledged.