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The 51st annual Eclipse Awards were presented Thursday night at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California honoring the champions of North American racing in 2021. Of the 245 eligible voters represented by the NTRA, consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, the NTWAB, and Daily Racing Form, 235 (95.9%) took part in the voting. Finalists were determined in each category by voters' top three selections, using a 10-5-1 point basis. Eclipse Award winners are determined solely by first place votes.
Knicks Go winning the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1)
Essential Quality wins the Belmont Stakes (G1)
There were two horses who picked up 2 votes each for Horse of the Year. Champion Older Female, Letruska, despite disappointing as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1). She won four Grade 1 events: the Apple Blossom, Ogden Phipps, Personal Ensign, and Spinster, along with the Fleur de Lis (G2) by 5 3/4 lengths. Trainer Fausto Gutierrez said that what made her a true champion, "She just has an enormous heart." In 2021 she was 6 for 8 with 1 second place finish, earning $1.946 million for owner-breeder St. George Stable.
The other with 2 votes was Champion Female Turf Horse Loves Only You, the first Japanese-based horse to win a Breeders' Cup race, the Filly and Mare Turf, and now the first Japanese-based Eclipse winner. Along with the win at Del Mar, her only American start, she won the Kyoto Kinen (G2) at home and the Hong Kong Cup (G1). Trainer Toshito Yahagi said after the Filly and Mare Turf, "The race seemed like a very competitive race; it was a very tough race. But before the race we thought our horse was number one. We believed it. She won this great race and so I like to respect my horse." In 2021 she was 4 for 6 with earnings of $6.425 million.
Echo Zulu winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1)
Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin took home the most trophies on the night. For the Owner award, they won 84 races with $17.4 million in earnings, of which 23 of the wins were in graded stakes competition. For the Breeder award, they had 100 homebred stakes winners worldwide, 8 of which were in Grade 1 stakes in North America, wih 172 North American starters earning $18.447 million. Among these, Breeders' Cup Turf winner Yibir was named Champion Turf Male, and Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Essential Quality was named Champion Three-Year-Old Male. At the Breeders' Cup, their three winners (Yibir, Mile winner Space Blues, and Juvenile Turf winner Modern Games) were all homebreds, sired by Dubawi.
Earle I. Mack was honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit, a lifetime achievement award. Starting in 1963, Mack has bred or raced 25 stakes winners as well as served the industry as part of the New York Racing Association, New York State Racing Commission, New York State Thoroughbred Racing Capital Investment Fund, and the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Corp. He also supported numerous charities including the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, and the Man O'War Project. Along with Thoroughbred racing, Mack's career included military, business, government, and the arts, and he serbed as the U.S. Ambassador to Finland in 2004 and 2005. His homebred winners include 2002 Brazilian Triple Crown winner Roxinho, 1993 Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski, November Snow, and Mr. Light. Mack said, "Since college I have devoted my life to the equine industry. I love the horse. I love our veterans who have fought hard for the survival of our freedoms and the democracy we embrace as Americans. I am grateful for and would like to give special thanks to the NTRA and the Eclipse selection committee for this special recognition. I am also immensely grateful to those in the industry who have supported my vision for the Man O' War Project, most especially The Jockey Club. The health, safety, and welfare of our horses and the integrity of our sport have been at the center of my advocacy over the years. I'm very heartened by the new (Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act) legislation which will most certainly inure to the greater good of our industry."
All the winners for 2021 are listed below with the actual vote totals. A link to a full profile is given for each winner. You can look up past year's winners here. You can see how the awards are decided here.
Horse of the Year: Knicks Go
Voting: Knicks Go, 228; Letruska, 2; Loves Only You (JPN), 2; Essential Quality, 1; Lil Latigo, 1; Medina Spirit, 1.
Two-Year-Old Male: Corniche
Voting: Corniche, 214; Jack Christopher, 12; Modern Games (IRE), 2; Tiz the Bomb, 2; Frosty Storm, 1; Gunite, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.
Two-Year-Old Filly: Echo Zulu
Voting: Echo Zulu, 233; Baytown Valleygirl, 1; Twilight Gleaming (IRE), 1.
Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality
Voting: Essential Quality, 131; Medina Spirit, 84, Life Is Good, 18; Hurricane Nation, 1; Hot Rod Charlie, 1.
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Malathaat
Voting: Malathaat, 227; Going Global (IRE), 3; Shantisara (IRE), 2; Bella Sofia, 1; Eida’s Storm, 1; Santa Barbara (IRE), 1.
Older Male: Knicks Go
Voting: Knicks Go, 232; Maxfield, 2; Lil Latigo, 1.
Older Female: Letruska
Voting: Letruska, 221; Marche Lorraine (JPN), 11; Damisela, 1; Gamine, 1; Monomoy Girl, 1.
Male Sprinter: Jackie's Warrior
Voting: Jackie’s Warrior, 110; Aloha West, 50; Flightline, 33; Golden Pal, 19; Dr. Schivel, 18; Extravagant Kid, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.
Female Sprinter: Ce Ce
Voting: Ce Ce, 136; Gamine, 97; Bella Sofia, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.
Male Turf Horse: Yibir
Voting: Yibir (GB), 135; Domestic Spending (GB), 33; Space Blues (IRE), 33; Golden Pal, 14; Colonel Liam; 11; Smooth Like Strait, 6; Town Cruise, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Female Turf Horse: Loves Only You
Voting: Loves Only You (JPN), 136; War Like Goddess, 70; Santa Barbara (IRE), 10; Going Global (IRE) 6; Althiqa (GB), 5; Shantisara (IRE), 2; Con Lima, 1; My Sister Nat (FR), 1; Regal Glory, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.
Steeplechase: The Mean Queen
Voting: The Mean Queen (IRE), 210; Snap Decision, 2; Voter Abstentions, 23.
Owner: Godolphin LLC
Voting: Godolphin LLC, 216; Klaravich Stables LLC, 7; End Zone Athletics Inc, 2; Korea Racing Authority, 2; Gary Barber, 1; Calumet Farm, 1; LNJ Foxwoods, 1; St. George Stable LLC, 1; Voter Abstentions, 4.
Voting: Godolphin LLC, 205; Calumet Farm, 8; Angie Moore, 7; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, 6; Gail Rice, 3; Nick Alexander, 1; Fred W. Hertrich III and John Fielding, 1; Spendthrift Farm LLC, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.
Trainer: Brad Cox
Voting: Brad Cox, 189; Steve Asmussen, 33; Charlie Appleby, 3; Bob Baffert, 2; Chad Brown, 2; Karl Broberg, 1; Michael McCarthy, 1; Todd Pletcher, 1. Voter Abstentions, 3.
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Voting: Joel Rosario, 213; Irad Ortiz Jr., 17; Paco Lopez, 1; Flavien Prat, 1; Luis Saez, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Apprentice Jockey: Jessica Pyfer
Voting: Jessica Pyfer, 156; John Hiraldo, 46; Charlie Marquez, 12; Voter Abstentions, 21.
The Media Eclipse Awards were announced January 6. The articles can be read and photo viewed here.
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.
More about the Eclipse Awards:
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