Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Eclipse Award Picks

There are 17 Eclipse Awards that will be given out on Monday night, January 17 at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami, Florida. Did you know that Jerry Lewis filmed his classic comedy, "The Bellboy" at this hotel? Maybe you don't care, but I figured I would throw that in as a "fun fact". So, without any further ado, here are my selections for 16 of the Eclipse Award categories (I am not familiar enough with the Steeplechase division to make any kind of pick in that category):

Apprentice Jockey: Omar Moreno, who has won more money and more races than any other apprentice in 2010. Those two points outweigh anything else in this category.

Jockey: Ramon Dominguez, who finished 2010 second in wins with 369 and earnings of $17,411,880. That is the most for any jockey in the country. If I am going to base the first selection on this criteria, I feel I should be consistent, especially since Dominguez is second behind a rider not nominated against him and he dominates the toughest circuit in the land in New York.

Breeder: Adena Springs. I know it is in vogue to bash Frank Stronach lately for his management of Magna and the situation that some of this countries most glorious or historic racetracks (Gulfstream, Pimlico, and Santa Anita) find themselves in, however, that should not take away from the fact that the man runs the finest breeding program on the continent. Adena Springs has won this Award the last seven years and I see no reason that it shouldn't be eight straight. Adena Springs horses won 506 races in 2010 and earned $13,369,852 in purse money.

Owner: WinStar Farm gets my selection here over Ann and Jerry Moss. Yes, the Mosses did a wonderful thing bringing Zenyatta back for another campaign, but the pickings after her were a little light for the couple. WinStar won two of the big three in 2010 with Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby and Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes. WinStar was also the leading owner by earnings in North America with $5,183,379.

Trainer: This might actually be the toughest category of the entire program for me, but I will side with Bob Baffert. In all likelihood, Baffert was robbed of another Derby win by the post position draw of Lookin At Lucky, who was the best three-year-old by a long way this year. Baffert also won 124 races from 500 starters and earned $11,103,463 in purses. Baffert also picked up his 2,000th career victory in 2010, which is quite a landmark for any trainer.

Female Sprinter: Dubai Majesty won the big one in this category, the Grade 1 Filly And Mare Sprint on Friday at the Breeders' Cup and she deserves the honors here. She defeated her closest competitor in the division (Champagne D'Oro) at the Breeders' Cup and she even prevailed in an ungraded turf sprint at Monmouth Park. She is a versatile and deserving champion in this division.

Male Sprinter: While Big Drama won the Sprint at the Breeders' Cup, I still feel that Majesticperfection proved he was the better horse when he crushed the entire field (including Big Drama) in the Vanderbilt at Saratoga over the summer. It is not his fault he was injured and denied the chance to finish off what was a championship season. Majesticperfection is my pick.

Female Turf: Goldikova is maybe the most brilliant horse currently running on the planet and to deny her this award simple because she made only one start here is ridiculous. Anyone voting against her for that reason is wrong, in my opinion. Her third straight win in the Breeders' Cup Mile was maybe the most impressive of the three and she gets the edge in here.

Male Turf: You know it strikes me as odd that many of the same scribes who won't vote for Zenyatta for Horse Of The Year because it isn't a lifetime achievement award are going to vote for Gio Ponti here. I don't get that because he really didn't impress in 2010, winning just twice and not being super awesome either time. I actually think Winchester's season was better and he beat Gio Ponti to boot in the Manhattan.

Older Female: Zenyatta, do I really need to go on?

Older Male: Blame, see Zenyatta comment above.

Three-Year-Old Female: Blind Luck won the Kentucky Oaks, the Alabama, and ran second behind the older Unrivaled Belle in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic. She beat her closest rival in the division, Havre De Grace, every time they met save one. Blind Luck is the deserving selection here.

Three-Year-Old Male: I know what I said about Majesticperfection's injury not costing him my vote earlier, however, I still go with Lookin At Lucky over Eskendereya. Lookin At Lucky was the Champion Two-Year-Old coming in and had a magnificent 2010, winning the Preakness, Haskell, Indiana Derby, and running a strong fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He never seemed to run a really poor race all year and he gets my selection.

Two-Year-Old Female: Awesome Feather went six for six in 2010 and won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. There really is no alternative to picking her here.

Two-Year-Old Male: Uncle Mo won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in dominating fashion, a performance that stamped him as the early favorite for the 2011 Kentucky Derby to run over the same track in May. By the way, he drilled his closest competition for this honor (Boys At Tosconova) in the Juvenile. No contest, Uncle Mo wins.

Horse Of The Year: I have already made my feelings for the category known in a previous post. I am picking Zenyatta and I really don't care if you think I am a bozo or not for doing it. I don't care that she lost by a head (or less) to Blame in the Classic. For all she did for racing and for coming as close to perfect as anyone ever could, Zenyatta is the Horse Of The Year.

There will be no post on Thursday since I am going to enjoy a Hockey Night In Arizona. Tune in again on Friday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

No comments: