Saturday night amounted to a big one both for Triple Crown hero American Pharoah and his connections, who took five of six Eclipse Awards for which they were nominated.
The full list of 2015 champions announced during a ceremony at South Florida’s Gulfstream Park:
Horse of the Year: American Pharoah
There’s no arguing this selection. Before his Triple Crown sweep and Breeders’ Cup Classic victory, the colt flashed brilliance after a layoff of five-plus months, winning Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby with ease ahead of the first Saturday in May.
Finalists (first-place votes) – American Pharoah (261).
Older Dirt Male: Honor Code
A winner at the Grade I level in Florida and New York last year, the Shug McGaughey-trained son of A.P. Indy had a knack for coming from off the pace to score wins in some of the country’s top races, among them against a loaded field in the Met Mile.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Honor Code (126); Liam’s Map (95); Tonalist (14).
Older Dirt Female: Beholder
Shipping to Kentucky irritated the mare, enough to make her sick, and so a try at the Breeders’ Cup Classic was called off. But Beholder had already proven herself by posting a 5-for-5 campaign, including a win over the boys in the Grade I Pacific Classic.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Beholder (256); Stopchargingmaria (4); Sheer Drama (1).
Three-Year-Old Male: American Pharoah
Need we say more?
Finalists (first-place votes) – American Pharoah (261).
Three-Year-Old Filly: Stellar Wind
The Kentucky Oaks favourite ran fourth under the Twin Spires, but otherwise this John Sadler trainee was nearly unbeatable at 3. Stellar Wind, by Curlin, won all four of her starts on the west coast and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Stellar Wind (108); I’m a Chatterbox (47); Found (46).
Two-Year-Old Male: Nyquist
The Doug O’Neill trainee got the ball rolling early for first-crop sire Uncle Mo, then lived up to his lineage in rallying to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The undefeated colt is unbeaten in five starts, three of them Grade Is.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Nyquist (255); Mohaymen (3)
Two-Year-Old Filly: Songbird
This horse could be the best of the current 3-year-old crop, evidenced by her romp in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro cruised to a 5 3/4-length win, the fourth in a row to start Songbird’s career.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Songbird (260); Catch a Glimpse (1).
Male Turf Horse: Big Blue Kitten
Ken Ramsey’s homebred son of Kitten’s Joy hit the board in each of his starts as a 7 year old, reaching peaks in the campaign with wins in Monmouth Park’s Grade I United Nations and Belmont’s Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Big Blue Kitten (134); Golden Horn (63); The Pizza Man (41).
Female Turf Horse: Tepin
The first Eclipse Award winner for trainer Mark Casse, the mare lost just twice in seven starts last year, both those at more than her preferred distance at Saratoga. Tepin bounced back to win Keeneland’s Grade I First Lady before topping males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Tepin (211); Found (38); Stephanie’s Kitten (8).
Male Sprinter: Runhappy
The Super Saver colt’s campaign came to a controversial end, with a change in trainers from Maria Borell to Laura Wohlers, sister-in-law of owner James McIngvale. Runhappy locked this honor up despite the drama winning five straight in 2015, among them the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Runhappy (255), Private Zone (2); Rock Fall (2).
Female Sprinter: La Verdad
Victories in five of eight starts by the mare during her 5-year-old campaign won the Linda Rice trainee her division. While a runner-up to Wavell Avenue in the Breeders’ Cup Fully and Mare Sprint, La Verdad has already bounced back in 2016 with a stakes win.
Finalists (first-place votes) – La Verdad (98); Wavell Avenue (90); Lady Shipman (41).
Steeplechase Horse: Dawalan
Once brought to the United States, a 5 year old that ran 16th and 15th, respectively, in his final starts overseas excelled. Dawalan closed his season with back-to-back Grade I wins, first in Fair Hills’ Grand National Hurdle Stakes before the Colonial Cup Stakes at Camden.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Dawalan (165); Bob Le Beau (47); African Oil (2).
Breeder: Zayat Stables
Pair up sire Pioneerof the Nile with dam Littleprincessemma for American Pharoah, earner of a single-year record for nearly $8.3 million, and you’re bound to earn an Eclipse Award for it. Pioneerof the Nile, second in the 2009 Derby, was also a homebred.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Zayat Stables (190); Ken and Sarah Ramsey (39); Darley (13).
Owner: Zayat Stables
This honour comes mostly because of the Zayats’ campaign of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The family operation also sent off El Kabeir to wins in the Grade III Gotham and Jerome Stakes on the Triple Crown trail before an injury forced a scratch the day before the Kentucky Derby.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Zayat Stables (220); Ken and Sarah Ramsey (26); Midwest Thoroughbreds (6).
Trainer: Bob Baffert
The Hall of Famer added to his resume a Triple Crown, second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Classic and fourth Derby victory in 2015. Along with American Pharoah, his Dortmund also starred, entering the first Saturday in May undefeated and with a win in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Bob Baffert (200); Todd Pletcher (44); Chad Brown (12).
Jockey: Javier Castellano
The only Eclipse Award contender horse or human to top a connection to American Pharoah earned it. Now a winner of three straight Outstanding Jockey honors, Castellano rode 344 winners and earners of $28,120,767 in 2015.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Javier Castellano (184); Victor Espinoza (70); Joe Bravo (1).
Jockey: Apprentice Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
A Gulfstream Park regular, Gaffalione rode 217 winners in 1,419 tries. His horses earned $5,805,176, while he hit the board on 43 percent of mounts.
Finalists (first-place votes) – Tyler Gaffalione (149); Eric Cancel (63); Angel Cruz (9).
www.courier-journal.com – additional by SP Editorial Staff
Ed – The Eclipse Award is an American thoroughbred horseracing award named after the 18th century British racehorse and sire, Eclipse.
The Eclipse Awards were created by three independent bodies in 1971 to honour the champions of the sport. Although widely viewed as a national standard, they are not an official national award as Thoroughbred racing in the United States has no sport governing body.
The Eclipse Awards are sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association who select all finalists at the end of the year.