By Richard Rosenblatt
Let’s just call the Eclipse Awards ‘Bob and Brad’s Parade of Stars.’
The finalists for horse racing’s top honors, the Eclipse Awards, were announced on Saturday, and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and risen star Brad Cox are poised to dominate the celebration of champions on Jan. 28.
Baffert, the two-time Triple Crown winner who recently turned 68, and Cox, who turns 40 in March, each have horses nominated in five championship categories. Plus, they are finalists – along with Steve Asmussen – for the Eclipse for Outstanding Trainer.
From the Baffert stable, Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Authentic, along with three-time Grade 1 winner Improbable are finalists for Horse of the Year. The Cox-trained Monomoy Girl, 5-for-5 in 2020 capped off by a win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), is the other finalist.
Let’s give Authentic the Horse of the Year edge in votes cast by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB). Of the 249 eligible voters, 238 (95.58%) took part in the voting.
Authentic, along with Nadal, gives Baffert two of the three finalists for champion 3-year-old male. Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) winner Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg, is the other finalist.
Baffert-trainee Gamine is a finalist for two Eclipse Awards, top 3-year-old filly and top 3-year-old female sprinter. Gamine won three Grade 1s in 2002 – the Acorn, the Test and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Shedaresthedevil, winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1), gives Cox a finalist in the top 3-year-old filly category.
Improbable is also a finalist in the older male category, along with Baffert-trained (at least for most of 2020) Maximum Security.
Monomoy Girl also is a finalist for champion older dirt female along with Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress. Aunt Pearl, the Cox-trained winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and 3-for-3 in 2020, is a finalist for top 2-year-olf filly. Essential Quality, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and also trained by Cox, is a finalist (and favorite) as 2-year-old champion male.
The winners in the 17 Eclipse Award categories, both equine and human, will be announced during virtual ceremony at 8 p.m. ET, on TVG and several other outlets.
Baffert is a four-time Eclipse Award winning trainer; Cox is looking for his first training Eclipse.
The finalists (in alphabetical order):
Horse of the Year: Authentic, Improbable, Monomoy Girl
2-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality, Fire At Will, Jackie’s Warrior
2-Year-Old Filly: Aunt Pearl, Dayoutoftheoffice, Vequist
3-Year-Old Male: Authentic, Nadal, Tiz the Law
3-Year-Old Filly: Gamine, Shedaresthedevil, Swiss Skydiver
Older Dirt Male: Improbable, Maximum Security, Vekoma
Older Dirt Female: Midnight Bisou, Monomoy Girl, Serengeti Empress
Male Sprinter: Vekoma, Volatile, Whitmore
Female Sprinter: Gamine, Glass Slippers, Serengeti Empress
Male Turf Horse: Channel Maker, Order of Australia, Zulu Alpha
Female Turf Horse: Audarya, Rushing Fall, Tarnawa
Steeplechase Horse: Moscato, Rashaan, Snap Decision
Owner: Godolphin LLC; Klaravich Stables Inc.; Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC, and Starlight Racing
Breeder: Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC, Calumet Farm, WinStar Farm LLC
Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Brad Cox
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr., Joel Rosario, John Velazquez
Apprentice Jockey: Luis Cardenas, Yarmarie Correa, Alexander Crispin