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Eclipse with Mr.Wildman & His Sons
by George Stubbs
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2008 Eclipse Award Winners

Date: 01/26/2009

The 38th annual Eclipse Awards were held Monday night at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in south Florida, honoring the champions of North American racing in 2008. This year 242 (85.8%) of the 282 eligible voters cast their ballots, a decline from last year's 89% participation rate.

Curlin was named the 2008 Horse of the Year as well as the Champion Older Male, the first back-to-back Horse of the Year winner since Cigar. In his second championship season, he started off in Dubai winning the Jaguar Trophy and then the Dubai World Cup. Returning home, he won the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, then his connections experimented with turf, hoping for a run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but after a disappointing runner-up finish in the Man O'War at Belmont, he was returned to his optimum surface. He won the Woodward at Saratoga and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, setting the stage for his career finale in the Breeders' Cup Classic. However, at Santa Anita he faced a synthetic surface he did not like, finishing fourth behind Raven's Pass. He was retired after that and now stands at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky.

Curlin at Lane's End Farm on January 10.
Curlin's owner Jess Jackson said, "I've always believed he's a true champion. He's now one of the greats of the industry. This is an honor beyond the dreams of somebody who dreamed that he would someday own a champion race horse when I saw Seabiscuit run in 1938. Curlin still wants to run. He's running around the ice-hardened floor of his Lane's End paddock, and when he goes into the stable he gets depressed. He doesn't know what he's up for. I think he's going to be very pleased. It's no mean feat to win two Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year. We took on everyone on all tracks in all conditions, and I think he proved he deserves the honor." Trainer Steve Asmussen, who also picked up the award for Champion Trainer added, "Thank you, Curlin. What a special horse. We simply got out of his way."

Among the multiple-year winners other than Curlin, Frank Stronach's Adena Springs was Champion Breeder for the fifth year in a row and sixth overall, Garrett Gomez repeated as Champion Jockey, and Good Night Shirt won his second Steeplechase championship in a row.

As has been typical the last few years, most of the categories had clear cut winners, but the closest race was for Outstanding Owner, where Stronach Stables' 47 votes nosed out IEAH Stables' 46 votes for the win. Interestingly, two IEAH runners (Benny the Bull and Big Brown) won awards but none owned by Stronach. Other close contests include Male Sprinter with Benny The Bull taking the trophy by 21 votes over Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute, Forever Together defeated Goldikova by 43 votes for the Female Turf Horse award, and the Three-Year-Old Filly contest where Proud Spell defeated her stablemate, the late Eight Belles, by just 19 votes.

All the winners for 2008 are listed below with the actual vote totals. A link to a full profile is given for each horse and past performances for all the finalists are available here from Daily Racing Form. To see all this years finalists with profiles for each, check here. You can look up past year's winners here. You can see how the awards are decided here.

Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male: Curlin

HOY Vote totals:   Curlin, 153; Zenyatta, 69; Big Brown, 13; Raven's Pass, 2; Einstein, 1; Goldikova (IRE), 1; Peppers Pride, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Older Male Vote totals:   Curlin, 239; Albertus Maximus, 1; Commentator, 1; Go Between, 1.

Curlin Photo Gallery

Two-Year-Old Male: Midshipman

Vote totals:   Midshipman, 195; Vineyard Haven, 32; Old Fashioned, 7; Donativum (GB), 5; Desert Party, 1; Run Away and Hide, 1; Street Hero, 1.

Two-Year-Old Filly: Stardom Bound

Vote totals:   Stardom Bound, 236; Maram, 2; Springside, 2; Rachel Alexandra 1, Sky Diva, 1.

Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Big Brown

Vote totals:   Big Brown, 219; Raven's Pass, 21; Conduit (IRE) 1; Tale of Ekati, 1.

Three-Year-Old Female: Proud Spell

Vote totals:   Proud Spell, 90; Eight Belles, 71; Goldikova (IRE), 41; Indian Blessing, 20; Music Note, 20.

Older Female: Zenyatta

Vote totals:   Zenyatta, 240; Ginger Punch, 2.

Male Sprinter: Benny the Bull

Vote totals:   Benny the Bull, 107; Midnight Lute, 86; Street Boss, 40; Bustin Stones, 3; Fatal Bullet, 3; Visionaire, 1; Commentator, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Female Sprinter: Indian Blessing

Vote totals:   Indian Blessing, 138; Ventura, 88; Intangaroo, 13; Indyanne, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Male Turf Horse: Conduit

Vote totals:   Conduit (IRE), 175; Einstein (BRZ), 31; Grand Couturier (GB), 11; Hyperbaric, 5; Kip Deville, 5; Red Giant 4; Court Vision, 2; Henrythenavigator, 1; Champs Elysees (GB), 1; Spirit One (FR), 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Female Turf Horse: Forever Together

Vote totals:   Forever Together, 137; Goldikova, 94; Cocoa Beach (CHI), 6; Ventura, 3; Mauralakana (FR), 2.

Steeplechase: Good Night Shirt

Vote totals:   Good Night Shirt, 217; Be Certain, 1; High Action, 1; Voter Abstentions, 23.

Owner: Stronach Stables

Vote totals:   Stronach Stables, 47; IEAH Stables, 46; Stonestreet Stables LLC and Midnight Cry Stables, 29; Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss, 27; Godolphin Racing, 24; Zayat Stables 16; Augustin Stable, 13; Maggi Moss, 11; Robert Cole, Jr., 10; Darley Stable, 4; Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, 2; H. Joe Allen, 1; J. Paul Reddam, 1; Juddmonte Farms, 1; Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, 1; WinStar Farm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 8.

Breeder: Adena Springs

Vote totals:   Adena Springs, 139; Stonerside Stable, 60; WinStar Farm, 13; Juddmonte Farms, 9; Brereton C. Jones, 4; Eugene Melnyk, 1; Edward P. Evans, 1; Fares Farm, Inc., 1; George Strawbridge, Jr., 1; Hal and Patti Earnhardt, 1; Maverick Production, 1; Monticule, 1; Voter Abstentions, 10.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Vote totals:   Steve Asmussen, 187; Robert Frankel, 15; Larry Jones, 9; Bob Baffert, 7; Rick Dutrow, 5; Jerry Hollendorfer, 4; Bill Mott, 3; John Shirreffs, 2; Mike de Kock, 1; Anthony Dutrow, 1; Scott Lake, 1; Mike Maker, 1; Kiaran McLaughlin, 1; Todd Pletcher, 1; Howard Wolfendale, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.

Jockey: Garrett Gomez

Vote totals:   Garrett Gomez, 210; Rafael Bejarano, 11; Robby Albarado, 9; Russell Baze, 3; Kent Desormeaux, 3; Ramon Dominguez, 1; Alan Garcia, 1; Julien Leparoux, 1; Joe Rocco, 1; Mike Smith, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Apprentice Jockey: Pascacio Lopez

Vote totals:   Pascacio Lopez, 150; Inez Karlsson, 34; Abel Mariano, 18; Sebastian Morales, 3; Sheldon Russell, 3; Lyndie Wade, 2; Chamisa Goodwin, 1; Xavier Perez, 1; Grant Whitacre 1. Voter Abstentions, 29.

How the Awards are Decided

The old three-bloc voting system was replaced in 2003 with a one vote per person system, where every voter's selection is weighted equally. Voters rank their top three selections in each of the 16 voting categories and points are awarded on a 10-5-1 basis. The voting point system determines the three finalists in each category, but the winner is determined by first-place votes only. To see all the details of the new voting format from DRF, check here.

More about the Eclipse Awards:

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