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Seemingly every year the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year is an ongoing debate, and this year is no different. A case can be made for both California Chrome and Bayern; as well as the turf monster Main Sequence. We believe Main Sequence is a long shot, but Bayern and California Chrome are still “live on the tote board.” We’ve broken the debate down to five categories (Resume, Head to Head Matchups, Prestige, Campaign Aggressiveness, and Popularity) to decide who we believe deserves the award.
Record: (9) 6-0-1
Grade 1 Wins: 4
Stakes Wins: 6
Record: (10) 6-1-1
Grade 1 Wins: 2
Stakes Wins: 4
Three head to head matchups
Preakness Stakes: California Chrome
Pennsylvania Derby: Bayern
Breeders Cup Classic: Bayern
California Chrome carried horse racing through the Triple Crown, and came within a few lengths of winning the Triple Crown. He brought horse racing to a new level for five weeks out of the year, and came within a few lengths of pushing the envelope even further. The trainer, jockey, and especially owners became house hold names to the American public, and during the same time period Bayern ran in only one leg of the Triple Crown, finishing next to last in the Preakness. However, Bayern did win the Breeders Cup Classic which helped close part of the gap, but overall California Chrome’s two Triple Crown race victories give him the edge in this department.
Both of these horses ran campaign’s that would make any “old school” trainer proud. While staying in California early, Chrome ventured out once the Triple Crown began and ended up running at six different race tracks. He ran of course in all three Triple Crown races, and then was still able to make starts in the Breeders Cup Classic and most recently the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar.
While the Chrome campaign was impressive, Bayern was a true war horse! He ran at EIGHT different tracks, most on the east coast, and traveled back to California each time to train. It’s also worth noting that he did not race at a two year old, which makes his ten race campaign while running in eight Graded stakes races ultra impressive.
This one is not even close, and honestly will be the main reason California Chrome will win the award. Despite the ill-timed comments from his owners following the Belmont Stakes, California Chrome is still easily the most popular horse in America. Nothing captures the hearts of the American public like an underdog story. Chrome fits that bill perfectly.
In the end California Chrome won three categories, Bayern won one, and the other was a tie. Bayern probably won the most important category, head to head match up, but the weight of the other categories pushes California Chrome over Bayern. While we can understand both sides, our pick has to be California Chrome. We can only hope that these two horses, along with Shared Belief, can spark a rivalry for all of us to enjoy in 2015.
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