01/19/2010 1:00AM

Zenyatta wins division; Gio Ponti takes two

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Taking a back seat to the dramatic Horse of the Year announcement, both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta scored overwhelming victories in their respective Eclipse Award divisions, and Gio Ponti prevailed in two categories, when the 2009 divisional winners were revealed Monday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

- who won the Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward - was a unanimous choice as champion 3-year-old filly, garnering all 232 votes cast by 124 members of the National Turf Writers Association, 55 Daily Racing Form employees, and the 53 people who voted under the banner of the NTRA, whose bloc includes racing secretaries and members of Equibase.

, who won the Breeders' Cup Classic in her final start of the year to run her record to 14 for 14, was named the champion older female for the second straight year, but was denied being a unanimous choice by a single vote for Icon Project that was registered by a member of Daily Racing Form.

, who won four Grade 1 grass races and was second in the BC Classic, became the first horse in nearly 30 years to be named both champion older horse and champion male turf horse in the same year. He was a resounding winner in both categories. Gio Ponti received 184 votes for champion older horse to 18 for second-place Einstein and 16 for Kodiak Kowboy. He received 206 votes for champion male turf horse, easily outpolling Breeders' Cup Turf winner Conduit, who was second with 22.

The last horse to win both titles in the same year was John Henry in 1981.

, who took over as Rachel Alexandra's trainer following the Kentucky Oaks, received his second straight Eclipse Award as champion trainer. He set a single-season record of 650 victories in 2009. Asmussen received 130 votes, more than twice as many as John Shirreffs, the trainer of Zenyatta, who finished second with 57.

No one else connected with Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta won an Eclipse Award.

Jerry and Ann Moss, the owners of Zenyatta, finished second for champion owner in a close vote to Sheikh Mohammed's , which did not have any equine champions but had several Eclipse finalists and won multiple Grade 1 races in North America during the year. Godolphin received 61 votes to 56 for the Mosses, with Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms third with 40 votes and the WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt next with 38. Rachel Alexandra's owners - Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick - were a distant fifth with 15 first-place votes.

Although all votes are pooled, there were widely divergent views in this category by the three voting organizations.

The turf writers went equally for Godolphin and the Mosses, with each receiving 39 votes to 17 for WinStar and 12 for Juddmonte. Godolphin carried the Daily Racing Form bloc with 17 votes to 13 for Juddmonte, 9 for the Mosses, and 7 for WinStar. The NTRA preferred Juddmonte with 15 votes to 14 for WinStar, 8 for the Mosses, and 5 for Godolphin.

, which bred such outstanding runners as Ventura and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Midday, did prevail as champion breeder, garnering 157 votes to easily defeat Frank Stronach's Adena Springs, which was second with 44 votes. Dolphus Morrison, the breeder of Rachel Alexandra, was third with 16, and Maverick Productions Ltd., which bred Zenyatta, finished in a tie for fourth with WinStar with 3 votes apiece.

, who won three Breeders' Cup races, followed up his 2006 apprentice Eclipse with an Eclipse Award as champion jockey by totaling 122 votes to easily outdistance reigning champion Garrett Gomez (46) and Ramon Dominguez (45). Calvin Borel, the rider of Rachel Alexandra, was fourth with 13 votes, and Mike Smith, Zenyatta's jockey, was fifth with 3 votes.

Leparoux, a native of France, became the first Eclipse Award-winning jockey born in Europe.

One of Leparoux's Breeders' Cup wins came aboard , who took the BC Filly and Mare Sprint and thus nailed down the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter. She received 222 votes in that category. Ventura was second with 6.

Several other horses prevailed by fairly wide margins.

, who won the Del Mar Futurity, Norfolk Stakes, CashCall Futurity, and was an unlucky second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, received 209 votes as champion 2-year-old male, easily defeating BC Juvenile winner Vale of York, who had 17 votes.

parlayed a victory in the BC Juvenile Fillies to an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly. She received 171 votes to 41 for second-place Blind Luck.

Likewise, secured the Eclipse Award as champion female turf horse by capturing the Breeders' Cup Mile for the second straight year. She received 172 votes. Ventura was second with 41.

, who won the Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, received 225 votes for champion 3-year-old male. Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird was second with 4 votes.

, a three-time Grade 1 winner, was named champion sprinter. He received 118 votes, more than twice as many as second-place Zensational, who had 54.

was a runaway winner as champion steeplechase horse, garnering 209 votes. Red Letter Day was second with 3.

Southern California-based was named champion apprentice jockey. He received 93 votes to defeat Luis Saez (48) and Luis Batista (47).

Other Eclipse Award winners who were announced previously received their awards Monday night. They included William S. Farish of Lane's End Farm, who received the Eclipse Award of Merit, and Monique Koehler, the founder of racehorse rescue programs, who received a Special Eclipse Award for her endeavors.

Previously announced winners in the media categories of writing, photography, television, and radio also received their awards Monday night.

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