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Eclipse with Mr.Wildman & His Sons
by George Stubbs
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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.
Flightline winning the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1)
Epicenter wins the Travers Stakes (G1)
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.
Malathaat (outside) winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1)
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 of the Year: Flightline
Voting: Flightline, 239; Country Grammer, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Malathaat, 1; Voter Abstentions 4
Two-Year-Old Male: Forte
Voting: Forte, 243; Cave Rock, 2; Victoria Road (IRE), 1
Two-Year-Old Filly: Wonder Wheel
Voting: Wonder Wheel, 240; Hoosier Philly, 3; Meditate (IRE), 2; Julia Shining, 1
Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Epicenter
Voting: Epicenter, 155; Taiba, 66; Modern Games (IRE), 18; Cyberknife, 4; Rich Strike, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Nest
Voting: Nest, 238; Tuesday (IRE), 4; Echo Zulu, 2; Secret Oath, 1; Voter Abstention, 1
Older Male: Flightline
Voting: Flightline, 240; Country Grammer, 1; Jackie’s Warrior, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Olympiad, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2
Older Female: Malathaat
Voting: Malathaat, 241; Clairiere, 2; Goodnight Olive, 2; Letruska, 1
Male Sprinter: Elite Power
Voting: Elite Power, 108; Cody’s Wish, 70; Jackie’s Warrior, 62; Jack Christopher, 4; Flightline, 1; Golden Pal,1
Female Sprinter: Goodnight Olive
Voting: Goodnight Olive, 228; Caravel, 12; Echo Zulu, 2; Matareya, 2; Kimari, 1; Wicked Halo, 1
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
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
Voting: Hewick (IRE), 113; Snap Decision, 88; Down Royal, 15; Howyabud (IRE), 1. Voter Abstentions, 29
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
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
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
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Voting: Irad Ortiz Jr., 218; Flavien Prat, 24; Jose Ortiz, 1; Joel Rosario, 1, Luis Saez, 1; Voter Abstention, 1
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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