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Eclipse with Mr.Wildman & His Sons
by George Stubbs
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2022 Eclipse Award Winners

Date: 01/26/2022

The 52nd annual Eclipse Awards were presented Thursday night at The Breakers Palm Beach honoring the champions of North American racing in 2022. Of the 258 eligible voters represented by the NTRA, consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, the NTWAB, and Daily Racing Form, 246 (95.3%) 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.

horse racing
Flightline winning the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1)
Knicks Go was voted the 2022 Horse of the Year by a landslide, to go along with his nearly unanimous selection as Champion Older Male. He retired with a perfect 6 for 6 record, including the Metropolitan Handicap, Pacific Classic, and Breeders' Cup Classic in his 2022 season, earning $4.5 million for owners Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing for trainer John Sadler and jockey Flavien Prat. This is the shortest ever campaign of a Horse of the Year in the Eclipse Awards era, but he won by a combined margin of victory of 33 1/2 lengths, and earned a 140 rating in the World Thoroughbred Rankings, the highest rated dirt horse in its 20 year history. Majority owner Kosta Hronis said the day after the Classic, He wanted to go full blast all the time, and that's kind of hard to do if you're going to run a mile and a quarter. They had to teach him how to be a racehorse, and that's what Juan (exercise rider Leyva) and John (Sadler) did. It took a lot of work, and they put in all the groundwork and hours to get that done. He would have been the favorite in the Dirt Mile, the Classic, the Sprint, maybe a turf race today. He's America's horse. He's done everything possible. He's stepped up to every challenge." Sadler added, "Brilliant is his normal. He didn't disappoint. He never has. How do you describe greatness? This is a rare horse that happens every 20-30 years."

horse racing
Epicenter wins the Travers Stakes (G1)
Todd Pletcher picked up his record eighth Eclipse as Champion Trainer, his first since 2014, and ending Brad Cox's streak of titles at 3. Pletcher said, "It means a lot to me and my staff but it's meaningful to me because when we have a year worthy of an Eclipse Award it means we've done really well with our horses and for our owners. For me, the real pride is not the Eclipse Award as leading trainer, it's the Eclipse Awards for the horses and their owners. When you see a moment like Mike Repole running 1-2 in the Belmont and then putting his head down in disbelief over something that was a dream of his since he was a kid, that's what's exciting and rewarding for me." His runners reached the winner's circle 223 times out of 1020 starts, earning just over $30.5 million, Pletcher's best season yet in purse earnings, adding to his all-time earnings record of over $451 million. He joins Frank Stronach and Stronach's Adena Springs breeding operation as the only 8-time winners in a single category.

There were three horses who picked up 1 votes each for Horse of the Year: Country Grammer and Life is Good who also picked up a vote each for Older Dirt Mile, and Malathaat, who got the nod for Champion Older Dirt Female for the second year in a row. She closed out her 2022 season with G1 wins in the Personal Ensign, Spinster, and Breeders' Cup Distaff for trainer Todd Pletcher, earning $2.056 million. Owner Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan al Maktoum, daughter of the late Sheikh Hamdan (Shadwell Farm) said, "My late father was the best horseman I've ever known, and he only spoke fondly about a handful of his mares, and I heard him talking about Malathaat even before she started her 3-year-old career. He was a reserved and quiet man, so for him to speak so fondly about a 2-year-old who still arguably had a lot to prove surprised me. I'm thrilled that she's as good as he believed she was."

The closest voting came in the Female Turf Horse category, with Regal Glory winning with 96 votes over In Italian's 51 and War Like Goddess' 47 and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Tuesday with 40. Campaigned by trainer Chad Brown for owner Peter Brant, her Grade 1 wins included the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, the Just a Game at Belmont Park, and the Matriarch at Del Mar. Modern Games was the runaway winner of the Male Turf Horse award, as the only horse to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and come back to win the Breeders' Cup Mile the next season. His wins include the French 2000 Guineas, Woodbine Mile, and the Breeders' Cup Mile, to go with a second place finish in the Sussex Stakes to European Horse of the Year Baaeed.

horse racing
Malathaat (outside) winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1)
Surprisingly there were no unanimous selections this year despite the domination of Flightline. Forte's 243 votes in the Two Year Old Male category were more than the 240 votes for Flightline for older horse. Campaigned by trainer Todd Pletcher for owners Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, he won three Grade 1's : the Hopeful, Breeders' Futurity, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile making the selection a foregone conclusion. Pletcher said, "You can argue he's the most accomplished 2-year-old we've had and we've been fortunate to have a couple of champions. He was as dominant as any 2-year-old we've had. What he did is very difficult to do. You don't have that many opportunities to win grade 1 stakes with a 2-year-old and he was near-perfect. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has a big edge in Eclipse Award voting. But when you top it off with two other grade 1s and couple it with a big Breeders' Cup win over the other leading candidate in Cave Rock, it solidified the deal for him."

Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin once again took home the most trophies on the night, getting trophies for Outstanding Owner, Outstanding Breeder, and the Male Turf Horse award for Modern Games. Michael Banahan, bloostock director for Godolphin USA said, "In America last year, all our grade 1 horses were all homebreds. I think we've had this great opportunity to have lots of nice fillies that have been retired to the breeding program, so we have been able to reap the rewards of having strong broodmare bands and a strong stallion roster as well. A lot of it's a culmination of years of selecting the correct horses to breed and then it all coming together. We're probably in a bit of a golden era, this rich vein of form coming together for us in the moment. You go back 15-20 years when Juddmonte were so successful in America and there was no stopping them. We understand it's cyclical, and we know it's not going to continue forever, but we put 100% effort into trying to do that." Godolphin-breds won 150 times, 20 in stakes, earning $18.621 million. Their homebred stakes winners including four in the Breeders' Cup: Cody's Wish (Dirt Mile), Rebel's Romance (Turf), Modern Games (Mile), and Mischief Magic (Juvenile Turf Sprint).

Jay Privman received a Special Eclipse Award for Career Excellence. He started covering racing in 1980 for the Los Angeles Daily News before later joining the Racing Times, New York Times, and Thoroughbred Times before taking over the "Derby Doings" column at the Daily Racing Form for his mentor Joe Hirsch. Privman retired in September after covering Flightline's Pacific Classic win at Del Mar. He was a reporter on 8 Eclipse Award winning broadasts, three each with ESPN and NBC and one each with Sirius XM Radio and Fox Sports West 2. Privman said, "This is quite humbling and most appreciated, as it has been bestowed by my peers and those I covered. I get very emotional seeing whose names have also won a Special Award, like the greatest rider I ever saw, Laffit Pincay Jr., and the great racing journalist Charles Hatton. The number 30 is used in print journalism to signify the end of a story, so I find it incredibly moving to be the 30th recipient of the Special Award at the close of my career."

All the winners for 2022 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 racing
Horse of the Year: Flightline

Voting: Flightline, 239; Country Grammer, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Malathaat, 1; Voter Abstentions 4

horse racing
Two-Year-Old Male: Forte

Voting: Forte, 243; Cave Rock, 2; Victoria Road (IRE), 1

horse racing
Two-Year-Old Filly: Wonder Wheel

Voting: Wonder Wheel, 240; Hoosier Philly, 3; Meditate (IRE), 2; Julia Shining, 1

horse racing
Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Epicenter

Voting: Epicenter, 155; Taiba, 66; Modern Games (IRE), 18; Cyberknife, 4; Rich Strike, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2

horse racing
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Nest

Voting: Nest, 238; Tuesday (IRE), 4; Echo Zulu, 2; Secret Oath, 1; Voter Abstention, 1

horse racing
Older Male: Flightline

Voting: Flightline, 240; Country Grammer, 1; Jackie’s Warrior, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Olympiad, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2

horse racing
Older Female: Malathaat

Voting: Malathaat, 241; Clairiere, 2; Goodnight Olive, 2; Letruska, 1

horse racing
Male Sprinter: Elite Power

Voting: Elite Power, 108; Cody’s Wish, 70; Jackie’s Warrior, 62; Jack Christopher, 4; Flightline, 1; Golden Pal,1

horse racing
Female Sprinter: Goodnight Olive

Voting: Goodnight Olive, 228; Caravel, 12; Echo Zulu, 2; Matareya, 2; Kimari, 1; Wicked Halo, 1

horse racing
Male Turf Horse: Modern Games

Voting: Modern Games (IRE), 189; Rebel’s Romance (IRE), 50; Nations Pride (IRE), 2; Casa Creed, 1; Classic Causeway, 1; Golden Pal, 1; Gufo, 1; Shirl’s Speight, 1

horse racing
Female Turf Horse: Regal Glory

Voting: Regal Glory, 96; In Italian (GB), 51; War Like Goddess, 47; Tuesday (IRE), 40; Caravel, 6; Bleecker Street, 3; Gina Romantica, 1; Spendarella, 1; Voter Abstention, 1

Steeplechase: Hewick

Voting: Hewick (IRE), 113; Snap Decision, 88; Down Royal, 15; Howyabud (IRE), 1. Voter Abstentions, 29

horse racing
Owner: Godolphin LLC

Voting: Godolphin LLC, 195; Peter Brant, 20; Hronis Racing LLC, Sienna Farm, LLC, Summer Wind Equine LLC; West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing LLC, 11; Klaravich Stables Inc., 6; Repole Stable, 5; End Zone Athletics, 2; Charles Fipke, 1; Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, 1; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 1; Voter Abstentions, 4

horse racing
Breeder: Godolphin

Voting: Godolphin LLC, 182; Summer Wind Equine, 30; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, 16; Calumet Farm, 11; Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables, 4; Voter Abstentions, 3

horse racing
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Voting: Todd Pletcher, 108, Chad Brown, 95; John Sadler, 16; Steve Asmussen, 12; William Mott, 6; Brad Cox, 4; Mark Casse, 1; Phil D’Amato, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3

horse racing
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Voting: Irad Ortiz Jr., 218; Flavien Prat, 24; Jose Ortiz, 1; Joel Rosario, 1, Luis Saez, 1; Voter Abstention, 1

horse racing
Apprentice Jockey: Jose Antonio Gomez

Voting: Jose Antonio Gomez, 112; Vicente Del-Cid, 91; Jeiron Barbosa, 18; Kylee Jordan, 4; Marshall Mendez, 1; Madeline Rowland, 1; Voter Abstentions, 19
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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