Eclipse Awards names Wise Dan Horse of the Year; area connections also honored

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Kentucky-based connections took home the top prize when horse racing’s Eclipse Awards were handed out Saturday night. The Eclipse Awards honor the horses and individuals in the horse industry that, through their achievements throughout the year, have earned the title of Champion in their respective fields. It is voted on by members of the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the Daily Racing Form.

Wise Dan, the Lexington-based gelding who won three Grade 1 races on the turf last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile, took home the top prize as Horse of the Year. He was also crowned Male Turf Champion and Champion Older Male. He became the first horse since John Henry in 1981 to take home three Eclipse Awards in one night. Owner and breeder Morton Fink, 83, graciously stepped to the stage three times to accept the awards, each time inviting trainer Charles Lopresti to share his thoughts on the moment.

“Everyone knows you have good horse, but you very seldom have a great one,” Fink said.

Wise Dan is expected to make his first start of the year at Keeneland in the Maker’s Mark Mile.

Louisville’s own Dale Romans grabbed his first Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer. Romans produced nine Grade 1 victories this year, including Little Mike’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Shackleford’s wins in the Metropolitan Handicap and the Clark Handicap, and Dullahan’s wins in the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes and the Pacific Classic. Romans took his moment in the spotlight to thank those around him that have helped him throughout his career, including his family and his longtime assistant trainer, Baldemar Bahena.

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