Even though the Breeders Cup usually does most of the heavy lifting, the 2013 Eclipse Awards are far from over this year. Thanksgiving Weekend could go a long way in determining this year’s champions. The Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct are just a couple of the major stakes races that could sway voters in some of the “iffy” divisions. Here is a closer look at each division:
– Horse of the Year: Wise Dan is the apparent favorite, but here is a scenario for you that not many are talking about. What if Game On Dude runs in the Clark Handicap, and wins by several lengths over Will Take Charge? Would that be enough to put him back in the picture for this award? I love the move by his connections to try this race, as it does give the horse a chance at some redemption. If he shows up with his “A” game he will certainly be tough to handle.
– 3 Year Old Male: Will Take Charge is your slam dunk winner if he wins the Clark, but what if he doesn’t? There are a few who still think Orb’s body of work could win him the award, but what about Goldencents? He’ll be running in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct against a field that looks to be stellar, including back to back filly and mare sprint winner Groupie Doll. A win for Goldencents and a Will Take Charge loss will muddle this division even more.
– 3 Year Old Female: Nothing to see here. Beholder and Princess of Sylmar are both deserving, but the nod will probably go to Beholder. Either way, both are done racing for this year so there is no drama in this one.
– 2 Year Old Male: Many feel New Year’s Day has this one sewn up by winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile, but his light resume outside that race has me thinking it may not be a lock. Both Honor Call and Cairo Prince will be running in the Remsen Stakes on Thanksgiving Saturday, and if either can give us a “lights out” effort they will be strongly supported. The mass amount of East Coast voters could sway this vote in the favor of one of these two horses.
– 2 Year Old Female: This could go one of several ways so it’s really hard to point to one specific race. Keep an eye on Aqueduct’s racing on Thanksgiving Saturday, as well as Hollywood Park’s big 2-year-old filly races towards the end of the year.
– Older Male: Wise Dan and Mucho Macho Man are going to get a lot of votes, but again, what if Game On Dude wins the Clark Handicap? Wouldn’t his body of work look pretty impressive compared to those two horses?
– Older Female: Royal Delta has kind of won this thing by default, unless Groupie Doll can impressively win the Cigar Mile. A win over that field would definitely trump anything Royal Delta accomplished this season, but would it be enough? It was really a weak year for older females, but strong three-year old fillies will make this the “it” division next year.
– Male Sprinter: This one is much like the 2 Year old Female division, but unlike that division the season for serious sprint races is all but over. Secret Circle might win this award even though he only ran two races this year.
– Female Sprinter: Groupie Doll wins this one regardless of what happens.
– Male Turf: Wise Dan. Next…
– Female Turf: Dank. Next…