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Eclipse with Mr.Wildman & His Sons
by George Stubbs
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2023 Eclipse Award Winners

Date: 01/25/2024

The 53rd annual Eclipse Awards were presented Thursday night at The Breakers Palm Beach honoring the champions of North American racing in 2023. Of the 250 eligible voters represented by the NTRA, consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, the NTWAB, and Daily Racing Form, 219 (88%) 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
Cody's Wish winning the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1)
Cody's Wish was voted the 2023 Horse of the Year by a landslide to go along with his title of Champion Older Male (over second place White Abarrio in both categories), off his 4 for 5 season including wins in the Churchill Downs (G1), Metropolitan Handicap (G1), Vosburgh (G2), and Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He is the first dirt mile specialist to be named Horse of the Year in the Eclipse Awards era. The victory was sentimental, after the death of his namesake Cody Dorman the day after the Breeders' Cup. Michael Banahan representing owner-breeder Godolphin (celebrating their first Horse of the Year) said, "We had the fairy tale ending at the Breeders' Cup and then when Cody passed away on the trip home it was devastating and became a roller coaster of emotions. The family was grateful for the time he spent with the horse. It was a special time that filled us with so many highs and lows. When you add a story that resonated with the industry for two years to his ability and success, it's a given he was Horse of the Year."

horse racing
Arcangelo winner of the Belmont Stakes (G1)
Third in Horse of the Year voting was Champion Three-Year-Old Male Arcangelo, also by a landslide over second place Auguste Rodin. After losing his first start of the year, he won 4 straight including the Peter Pan (G2), Belmont (G1), and Travers (G1), also making trainer Jena Antonucci the first female to train a Triple Crown race winner. Unfortunately he was scratched from the Breeders' Cup Classic due to injury and was retired to Lane's End Farm. Antonucci said, "He's such a cool guy, and his personality was bigger than the stall or the barn. We were able to get him to focus for the two minutes of his races and put that big personality to work. His desire to win and to want to be a champion is something that you can't bottle."

Godolphin had the biggest victory of any Eclipse Award winner, taking 202 votes in the Breeder category over two others with 3 votes each and six more with 1 vote each. They also took the Owner title with 191 votes over Klaravich's 7 and Juddmonte's 5. Their runners won 86 times including 12 in Grade 1 company, including Horse of the Year Cody's Wish, Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Pretty Mischievous, and Master of the Seas. Banahan said, "It's a long road to get to an Eclipse Award but to be able to do it four years in a row as owner and three years in a row as breeder is an unbelievable accomplishment. It's a lot of hard work from the whole team, from foaling the mares to getting them raised as yearlings. There's a lot of hurdles to get over and we're just so grateful to be in that position to reap those rewards on the racetrack."

Surprisingly there were no unanimous selections this year but Champion Older Female Idiomatic was the closest there with 211 votes over just 4 for Goodnight Olive. Idiomatic won 8 of her 9 starts this year, finishing with Grade 1 wins in the Personal Ensign, Spinster, and Breeders' Cup Distaff for trainer Brad Cox. Garrett O'Rourke of owner-breeder Juddmonte Farm said, "Every single step along the way was such a pleasant surprise. Obviously, I would say the beauty of her campaign and what she had done from the longevity of it was that we didn't really have expectations beyond the next race at any point in time."

horse racing
Elite Power winning the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3)
Elite Power outpointed Cody's Wish 183 to 35 for the Male Sprinter award, his second straight title, joining Housebuster (1990-91) and Roy H (2017-18) as the only repeat winners in the category. Elite Power went 4 for 5 for trainer Bill Mott and owner Juddmonte Farms, including wins in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3), Vanderbilt (G1), and Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). Garrett O'Rourke of owner Juddmonte Farm said, "He just went on a steady improvement and just got better and better. Some horses have their ups and downs in their patterns, but he was a horse that just kept on moving forward all the time and finishing up obviously with the best performance of his life. So I think he's a pretty special horse, a Curlin with speed. Obviously that is what attracts an awful lot of people to him as a stallion prospect."

Goodnight Olive repeated as Champion Female Sprinter by a 140-72 margin over Echo Zulu. She went 3 for 5 in 2023, with wins in the Madison (G1), Bed o'Roses (G2), and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) for trainer Chad Brown. Bill Mott won the Trainer title for the fourth time, having trained champions Cody's Wish, Elite Power, and Just F Y I (Two-Year-Old Filly). His runners won 103 races (24 graded) in 649 starts, earning over $17 million in purses. Irad Ortiz Jr. won his fifth Eclipse in six years as Outstanding Jockey, with 366 wins and purse earnings of over $39 million.

Stuart S. Janney II received the Eclipse Award of Merit for outstanding career service to the Thoroughbred industry. Born into a Maryland racing family, famous as the owners and breeders of Ruffian, he went on his own in 1990, campaigning homebreds such as Coronado's Quest, Air Support, Celestial City, Data Link, Hymn Book, and Ironicus. He has also served as chairman of TOBA and on the boards of NYRA, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Equibase, and BloodHorse. Janney said, "This sport, and its future, have always been my top priority, and I am appreciative of the support of so many who have joined us on the journey to improve Thoroughbred racing and breeding for generations to come." Tom Hammond received the Special Eclipse Award for Career Excellence, as one of the sport's top broadcasters most prominently with NBC for the Breeders' Cup and Triple Crown. He started with NBC covering college basketball in he late 1970's before being chosen for the inaugural Breeders' Cup, and is already in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Hammond said, "As I look back on my over 50-year career, I see the many opportunities that the Thoroughbred world has provided to me. No question that I consider the Career Excellence Award to be one of the most meaningful of my life."

All the winners for 2023 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: Cody's Wish

Voting: Cody’s Wish, 134; White Abarrio, 37; Idiomatic, 21; Up to the Mark, 9; Arcangelo, 6; Auguste Rodin (IRE), 6; Elite Power, 5; Practical Move, 1.

horse racing
Two-Year-Old Male: Fierceness

Voting: Fierceness, 205; Big Evs (IRE), 4; Muth, 3; Locked, 2; Prince of Monaco, 2; Nutella Fella, 1; The Wine Steward, 1; Timberlake, 1.

horse racing
Two-Year-Old Filly: Just F.Y.I

Voting: Just F Y I, 202; Hard to Justify, 9; Candied, 3; Tamara, 2; Brightwork, 1; Jody’s Pride, 1; She Feels Pretty, 1.

horse racing
Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Arcangelo

Voting: Arcangelo, 193; Auguste Rodin (IRE), 21; Arabian Knight, 2; Mage, 1; National Treasure, 1; Two Phil’s, 1.

horse racing
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Pretty Mischievous

Voting: Pretty Mischievous, 182; Randomized, 24; Mawj (IRE), 9; Ceiling Crusher, 2; Faiza, 2.

horse racing
Older Male: Cody's Wish

Voting: Cody’s Wish, 148; White Abarrio, 65; Elite Power, 5, Defunded, 1.

horse racing
Older Female: Idiomatic

Voting: Idiomatic, 211; Goodnight Olive, 4; Echo Zulu, 3; Adare Manor, 1.

horse racing
Male Sprinter: Elite Power

Voting: Elite Power, 183; Cody’s Wish, 35; Speed Boat Beach, 1.

horse racing
Female Sprinter: Goodnight Olive

Voting: Goodnight Olive, 140; Echo Zulu, 72; Maple Leaf Mel, 3; Caravel, 2; Kirstenbosch, 1; Pretty Mischievous, 1.

horse racing
Male Turf Horse: Up to the Mark

Voting: Up to the Mark, 141; Auguste Rodin (IRE), 60; Master of The Seas (IRE), 12; Casa Creed, 1; Exaulted, 1; Integration, 1; Nobals, 1; Program Trading, (GB) 1; Red Knight, 1.

horse racing
Female Turf Horse: Inspiral

Inspiral (GB), 112; In Italian (GB), 50; Mawj (IRE), 43; Anisette (GB), 4; War Like Goddess, 3; Caravel, 2; Closing Remarks, 1; Didia (ARG), 1; Fev Rover, (IRE), 1; Moira, 1; Surge Capacity, 1.

Steeplechase: Merry Maker

Voting: Merry Maker (IRE), 69; Snap Decision, 50; Awakened, 25; Noah and The Arc (IRE), 24; Belfast Banter (IRE), 19; Scaramanga (IRE), 6; Voter Abstentions, 26.

horse racing
Owner: Godolphin LLC

Voting: Godolphin, LLC, 191; Klaravich Stables, Inc., 7; Juddmonte, 5; Gary Barber, 2; Repole Stable, 2; Coleswood Farm, Inc., 1; Harris Farm, Inc., 1; George Krikorian, 1; Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables LLC, 1; Bruno Schickedanz, 1; Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

horse racing
Breeder: Godolphin

Voting: Godolphin, 202; Calumet Farm, 3; Brereton C. Jones, 3; Richard Barton Enterprises, 1; George Krikorian, 1; Repole Stable, 1; Spendthrift Farm LLC, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC, 1; Taylor Made Farm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 5.

horse racing
Trainer: Bill Mott

Voting: Bill Mott, 132; Brad Cox, 60; Steve Asmussen, 8; Chad Brown, 7; Jena Antonucci, 4; Todd Pletcher, 3; Bob Baffert, 1; Mark Casse, 1; Linda Rice, 1. Voter Abstentions, 2.

horse racing
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Voting: Irad Ortiz Jr., 187; Javier Castellano,17; Flavien Prat, 7; Junior Alvarado, 4; Juan Hernandez, 1; Luis Saez, 1; Mike Smith, 1. Voter Abstention, 1.

horse racing
Apprentice Jockey: Axel Concepcion

Voting: Axel Concepcion, 166; Sofia Vives, 16; Jaime Torres, 14; Luis R. Rivera Jr., 7; Walter A. Rodriguez, 2; Voter Abstentions, 14.

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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