2013 Eclipse Award Nominees Announced: Wise Dan, Mucho Macho Man, or Will Take Charge for HOTY

Wise Dan, photo via Santa Anita's Twitter

Wise Dan, photo via Santa Anita’s Twitter

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters announced the finalists for the 2013 Eclipse Awards today, recognizing excellence in Thoroughbred racing. Winners will be announced at the Eclipse Awards dinner on January 18 at Gulfstream Park.

From America’s Best Racing, the nominees are…

Horse of the Year:   Mucho Macho ManWill Take ChargeWise Dan    Wise Dan won HOTY last year, and will probably repeat again.  He was beaten once this year (off-the-turf at Keeneland), but his victories were dominating, including defending his title in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.  This year, that should be enough to win again.  Mucho Macho Man won the BC Classic, but otherwise has been a bit inconsistent.  Will Take Charge has had an excellent end to the 2013 racing year, but doesn’t have quite enough record to beat out Wise Dan for Horse of the Year.

Two-Year-Old Male:   HavanaNew Year’s DayShared Belief

Two-Year-Old Filly:   Chriselliam (IRE)Ria AntoniaShe’s a Tiger

Three-Year-Old Male:   OrbPalace MaliceWill Take Charge.  Will Take Charge’s strong finish this fall, including second in the BC Classic, and a win against older horses in the Grade I Clark Handicap, should make him the favorite for 3-year-old Male.

Three-Year-Old Filly:   BeholderClose HatchesPrincess of Sylmar

Older Male:   Game On DudeMucho Macho ManWise Dan

Older Female:   Joyful VictoryRoyal DeltaTiz Miz Sue  This award is probably Royal Delta’s to lose.  Despite not living up to her 2012 form, she was still far and away the most-feared mare this year.

Male Sprinter:   Points OffthebenchSahara Sky, Secret Circle

Female Sprinter:   Dance to BristolGroupie DollMizdirection       Mizdirection won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, while Groupie Doll won the Filly & Mare Sprint on dirt.  Both repeat BC victories, but I’ll give the edge to Groupie Doll, despite her fourth place finish in the Cigar Mile.

Male Turf Horse:   Magician (IRE)Point of EntryWise Dan

Female Turf Horse:   Dank (GB)Laughing (IRE)Mizdirection

Steeplechase Horse:   Divine Fortune, Gustavian, Italian Wedding

Owner:   Juddmonte FarmsMidwest ThoroughbredsKenneth and Sarah Ramsey   I think this one’s a no-brainer.  The Ramseys have won just about everywhere this year with their herd of Kittens, an Eclipse Award would just be icing on the cake.

Breeder:   Adena SpringsMorton FinkKenneth and Sarah Ramsey

Trainer:   Bob BaffertBill MottTodd Pletcher

Jockey:   Javier CastellanoJoel RosarioGary Stevens  Joel Rosario had an outstanding spring season, when seemingly every horse he touched turned to gold.  But Gary Stevens made a miraculous story-book comeback…will that sway the hearts of voters?  All three jockeys are deserving of the win, you could make a case for any of them.

Apprentice Jockey:   Victor Carrasco, Manuel Franco, Edgard Zayas

In addition to honoring the 17 winners in the horse and human categories, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance will be recognized with an Eclipse Special Award.

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