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.
In a nearly unanimous vote, Louisville’s Starlight Racing Partners, which includes Jack Wolf and Ed Glasscock, was awarded the prize of Champion Two-Year-Old for their Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby. The Todd Pletcher trained colt is expected to make his three-year-old debut this weekend in the Grade 1 Holy Bull Stakes.
Champion Female Sprinter went to William “Buff” Bradley’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll. The Keeneland-based four-year-old filly ended the year with five graded stakes wins and a nose defeat to Stay Thirsty in the Cigar Mile. Although an illness sidelined her training schedule, Groupie Doll is expected to return to racing this year.
Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another was honored as Champion Three-Year-Old. His path to the Kentucky Derby included victories in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby. After his Kentucky Derby win, the son of Flower Alley left fans hopeful they’d see a Triple Crown winner when I’ll Have Another overtook Bodemeister in the stretch to win the Preakness Stakes. Before an injury forced his early retirement just one day before a Triple Crown attempt in the Belmont Stakes, I’ll Have Another was undefeated in four starts for the year. I’ll Have Another begins his stud career this year in Japan.
Former president of Keeneland, Nick Nicholson, was awarded the Award of Merit which is voted on by a panel of representatives from the Daily Racing Form, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters. The award honors outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.
A complete list of the Eclipse Award winners follows below.
Two-Year-Old Male – Shanghai Bobby
Two-Year-Old Filly – Beholder
Three-Year-Old Male – I’ll Have Another
Three-Year-Old Filly – Questing (GB)
Older Male – Wise Dan
Older Female – Royal Delta
Male Sprinter – Trinniberg
Female Sprinter – Groupie Doll
Male Turf Horse – Wise Dan
Female Turf Horse – Zagora (FR)
Steeplechase Horse – Pierrot Lunaire
Horse of the Year – Wise Dan
Owner – Godolphin Racing, LLC
Breeder – Darley
Trainer – Dale Romans
Jockey – Ramon Dominguez