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Eclipse with Mr.Wildman & His Sons
by George Stubbs
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2012 Eclipse Award Winners

Date: 01/19/2013

The 42nd annual Eclipse Awards were held Saturday night at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, honoring the champions of North American racing in 2012. This year 254 of the 272 eligible voters representing the NTRA, Daily Racing Form, and the NTWAB (93.38%) took part in this year's voting. Finalists were determined in each category by voters' top three selections, using a 10-5-1 point system, but the Eclipse Award winners were determined solely by first place votes.

Wise Dan was named the 2012 Horse of the Year as well as the Champion Older Male and Champion Male Turf Horse, making him the first horse since John Henry in 1981 to win three awards (coincidentally, the same three) in the same year. Raced by Morton Fink for trainer Charlie Lopresti, under jockey John Velazquez, the gelding won 5 of 6 starts at 6 different surfaces, including the Ben Ali, Fourstardave, Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Mile, and finally the Breeders' Cup Mile in course record time. His only defeat was a close second in the Stephen Foster Handicap on the dirt. He is the first Horse of the Year who specialized as a turf miler, in a category that generally favored 1 1/4 mile dirt horses.

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Wise Dan winning the Woodbine Mile
Trainer Charles Lopresti said, "I thought he was going to run good, but I had no idea he was going to break a 15-year-old track record. Breaking two track records in one year? You haven't seen a horse like that since John Henry and Forego. When you go back to the last really good gelding, you talk about those horses; that's for sure. It's like a dream come true for a little guy like me who started out with six horses. Even five years ago I never would have thought I'd be in this position. "People have been telling me for the last month that he's got a chance to win all three (awards). I didn't know if I believe that. You want to believe it because you believe in your horse and you like your horse. It was just amazing that he did that." Owner Morton Fink said, "For me, after all these years, you need something to get up in the morning and look forward to. This horse has made me so happy, I can't express it in words. The whole thing seems like a miracle to me. Sometimes over the years, you have decent horses and something always goes wrong sooner or later. This year and last year, just unbelievable."

As has been typical the last few years, most of the categories had clear cut winners, but the closest race was for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, where Questing took the award by just 4 votes over My Miss Aurelia. At the other extreme, Shanghai Bobby was almost unanimously selected Champion Two-Year-Old Male, with 1 vote going to Uncaptured. Similarly, only 4 voters failed to select Groupie Doll as the Champion Female Sprinter. Sheikh Mohammed took home three trophies, each collected by Darley America manager Jimmy Bell: Oustanding Owner (Godolphin Racing), Breeder (Darley), and the Three-Year-Old Filly Championship with Questing.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez won his third consecutive Outstanding Jockey Eclipse but was unable to accept in person due to a spill on January 18 at Aqueduct which left him in the hospital with a slightly displaced skull fracture. He is expected to make a full recovery and is currently resting in stable condition in Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in New York. His fellow riding finalists accepted the award for him. Second-place finisher John Velazquez said, "We're very proud to be here. We have (Ramon) in our prayers and hopefully he'll be back soon to be in competition with us."

All the winners for 2012 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, check here. You can look up past year's winners here. You can see how the awards are decided here.

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Horse of the Year: Wise Dan

Vote totals:   Wise Dan, 194; I'll Have Another, 30; Fort Larned, 12; Royal Delta, 8; Little Mike, 6; Shanghai Bobby, 1; Groupie Doll, 1; Frankel, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

Older Male: Wise Dan

Vote totals:   Wise Dan, 139; Fort Larned, 109; Little Mike, 4; Game On Dude, 1; Shackleford, 1.

Male Turf Horse: Wise Dan

Vote totals:   Wise Dan, 170; Little Mike, 78; Point of Entry, 5; No Vote, 1.

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Two-Year-Old Male: Shanghai Bobby

Vote totals:   Shanghai Bobby, 253; Uncaptured, 1.

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Two-Year-Old Filly: Beholder

Vote totals:   Beholder, 225; Executiveprivilege, 27; Dreaming of Julia, 1; So Many Ways, 1.

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Champion Three-Year-Old Male: I'll Have Another

Vote totals:   I'll Have Another, 247; Bodemeister, 3; The Lumber Guy, 1; Paynter, 1; Union Rags, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

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Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Questing

Vote totals:   Questing (GB), 106; My Miss Aurelia, 102; Believe You Can, 17; Contested, 13; Dance Card, 6; Lady of Shamrock, 5; In Lingerie, 4; Zo Impressive, 1.

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Older Female: Royal Delta

Vote totals:   Royal Delta, 231; Groupie Doll, 22; It's Tricky, 1.

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Male Sprinter: Trinniberg

Vote totals:   Trinniberg, 233; Shackleford, 11; The Lumber Guy, 8; Caixa Eletronica, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

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Female Sprinter: Groupie Doll

Vote totals:   Groupie Doll, 250; Mizdirection, 3; Contested, 1.

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Female Turf Horse: Zagora

Vote totals:   Zagora (FR) 242; Marketing Mix, 5; Lady of Shamrock, 4; Dayatthespa, 2; Voter Abstention, 1.

Steeplechase: Pierrot Lunaire

Vote totals:   Pierrot Lunaire, 116; Demonstrative, 99; Arcadius, 1; Divine Fortune, 1; Woodmont, 1; Voter Abstentions, 36.

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Owner: Godolphin Racing LLC (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum)

Vote totals:   Godolphin Racing, LLC, 138; Midwest Thoroughbreds, 50; Reddam Racing, LLC, 26; John C. Oxley, 13; Morton Fink, 12; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 2; Janis Whitham, 2; Zayat Stables, 2; Repole Racing, 1; Starlight Racing, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Breeder: Darley (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum)

Vote totals:   Darley, 170; Adena Springs, 25; Morton Fink, 20; Brereton C. Jones, 15; Janis Whitham, 4; Phipps Stable, 3; Harvey Clarke, 2; Fred and William Bradley, 1; William D. Graham, 1; Palides Investments, 1; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, 1; Voter Abstentions, 10.

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Trainer: Dale Romans

Vote totals:   Dale Romans, 119; Todd Pletcher, 87; Bob Baffert, 35; Chad Brown, 2; Bill Mott, 2; Jamie Ness, 2; Doug O'Neill, 2; Steve Asmussen 1; Ian Wilkes, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.

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Jockey: Ramon Dominguez

Vote totals:   Ramon Dominguez, 201; John Velazquez, 37; Rosie Napravnik, 4; Russell Baze, 2; Rafael Bejarano, 2; Javier Castellano, 2; Mario Gutierrez, 1; Mike Smith, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3; No Vote, 1.

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Apprentice Jockey: Jose Montano

Vote totals:   Jose Montano, 127; Irad Ortiz, Jr., 34; Angel Suarez, 25; Eswan Flores, 16; Wilmer Garcia, 4; Eliska Kubinova, 4; C.J. McMahon, 2; Jose Ortiz, 2; Hugo Sanchez, 2; Nicolas Milford, 1; Voter Abstentions, 37.

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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