The finalists for the Eclipse Awards, U.S. racing’s year-end honors, were announced Friday, and there were no surprises among the candidates for champion two-year-old male and female of 2017. The winners will be revealed at a Gulfstream Park gala on the evening of January 25.
The current top three on the Kentucky Derby (G1) points leaderboard – Good Magic, Bolt d’Oro, and Solomini – are also the finalists in the two-year-old male division.
Good Magic, who’d missed narrowly in the Champagne (G1), broke his maiden resoundingly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) over Solomini and hitherto unbeaten Bolt d’Oro. Solomini is so far the only one of the trifecta to return to action, crossing the wire first in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) but demoted to third for interference.
Although Bolt d’Oro lost his perfect record in the Breeders’ Cup, he still has substantial support for championship honors. He had been so impressive previously, through victories in the FrontRunner (G1) and Del Mar Futurity (G1), that the Eclipse electorate may be willing to forgive his third-place effort in the Juvenile, especially in light of an unfavorably wide trip. The vote tally between him and Good Magic is expected to be fairly close, imparting more suspense to the two-year-old male title than some other categories that are more lopsided.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) heroine Caledonia Road, the current Kentucky Oaks (G1) points leader, is among the three finalists for a championship in her division. Runner-up in the Frizette (G1) in her previous start, she proved her 17-1 odds all wrong with an emphatic performance in the Breeders’ Cup.
Another finalist for champion two-year-old filly, Moonshine Memories, ranks fourth on the Oaks leaderboard at the moment. She stayed undefeated through the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier (G1) double, but suffered her first loss when seventh behind Caledonia Road in the Juvenile Fillies.
Also in the championship mix is Rushing Fall, who overcame a wide trip and a deep international cast to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Unbeaten through three starts, all on turf, she has yet to compete in an Oaks points race.
Thus Eclipse voters had to decide which surface to emphasize: dirt as the traditional American surface, versus the turf form of Rushing Fall. Considering that Caledonia Road scored an upset in the Breeders’ Cup, while Rushing Fall was a leading player among the turf two-year-old fillies, the outcome may not be a foregone conclusion.
Good Magic photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com