Eclipse Award Finalists Announced

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Knicks Go is heavily favored in two Eclipse categories | Breeders' Cup/Eclipse Sportswire

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Knicks Go (Paynter) was one of a dozen winners at the 2021 Breeders' Cup meeting at Del Mar in early November to be named Eclipse Award finalists, as the candidates in 11 equine and five human categories were announced Saturday morning on TVG.

While the finalists for 2021 were not revealed–they will be announced at the conclusion of the Eclipse Award ceremony at Santa Anita Feb. 10–it is a fait accompli that Knicks Go will take home the evening's most coveted award. The grey, winner of the 2020 GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, capped his 5-year-old season in style with a powerhouse victory in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, easily accounting for 3-year-old Eclipse Award finalists Medina Spirit (Protonico) and 'TDN Rising Star' Essential Quality (Tapit). He was undefeated at two turns in 2021, which also included a pillar-to-post tally in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational and in the GI Whitney S. at Saratoga, where he had older male finalist Maxfield (Street Sense) 4 1/4 lengths behind him.

The sophomore male division will prove one of the biggest cliffhangers at this year's awards ceremony, as voters will have been forced to choose between the season-long consistency of Essential Quality and Medina Spirit, whose Kentucky Derby 'win' remains an open question and whom many will have opposed on non racing-related grounds, but whose resume features a defeat of elders in the GI Awesome Again S. and a superior finish in the Classic. The brilliant 'Rising Star' Life Is Good (Into Mischief) earned a spot on the ballot courtesy of his towering score in the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Knicks Go and Life Is Good are headed towards a highly anticipated clash in the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational in two weeks' time.

The Sprint divisions should prove for more interesting theater. In the male sprint category, Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music) was routinely the fastest horse over the course of the season, but stubbed his toe on championship day, finishing well behind Aloha West (Hard Spun). There may also be a smattering of support for 'Rising Star' Flightline (Tapit), smashing winner of the GI Runhappy Malibu S. in his graded stakes debut in December.

The same cloud hanging over Medina Spirit looms a factor in whether 'Rising Star' Gamine (Into Mischief) earns a second consecutive female sprint statuette. Not nearly as dominating as she was in 2020, she nevertheless was the only member of the divisional heavies to score multiple times at Grade I level, though she was beaten on the square by Ce Ce (Elusive Quality) on Breeders' Cup Saturday. Bella Sofia (Awesome Patriot) is a decided outsider.

'Rising Star' Corniche (Quality Road) will be heavily favored–despite some opposition–to give his sire another juvenile champion, and 'Rising Star' Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) looms one of the night's unanimous picks in the fillies' division.

Other Breeders' Cup winners to garner spots on the ballot include GI Juvenile Turf hero Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), one of three BC-winning finalists for his remarkable sire; Pizza Bianca (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), GI Juvenile Fillies Turf; Space Blues (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}, Mile; Yibir (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), Turf; and Japan's first Eclipse finalists Marche Lorraine (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) and Loves Only You (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}).

Noteworthy in the human categories are Godolphin, who are finalists in both the champion owner and breeder categories, and trainer Brad Cox, who conditioned Knicks Go and Essential Quality in a season in which his stable earned record prize money. The same can be said for Joel Rosario, who will be favored to pick up the Eclipse for champion jockey.

2yo Male

Corniche (Quality Road)

Jack Christopher (Munnings)

Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire})

 

2yo Filly

Echo Zulu (Gun Runner)

Juju's Map (Liam's Map)

Pizza Bianca (Fastnet Rock {Aus})

 

3yo Male

Essential Quality (Tapit)

Life Is Good (Into Mischief)

Medina Spirit (Protonico)

 

3yo Filly

Clairiere (Curlin)

Malathaat (Curlin)

Santa Barbara (Ire) (Camelot {GB})

 

Older Dirt Male

Knicks Go (Paynter)

Maxfield (Street Sense)

Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper)

 

Older Dirt Female

Letruska (Super Saver)

Marche Lorraine (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn})

Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil)

 

Male Sprinter

Aloha West (Hard Spun)

Flightline (Tapit)

Jackie's Warrior (Maclean's Music)

 

Female Sprinter

Bella Sofia (Awesome Patriot)

Ce Ce (Elusive Quality)

Gamine (Into Mischief)

 

Male Turf Horse

Domestic Spending (GB) (Kingman {GB})

Space Blues (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire})

Yibir (GB) (Dubawi {Ire})

 

Female Turf Horse

Loves Only You (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn})

Santa Barbara (Ire) (Camelot {GB})

War Like Goddess (English Channel)

 

Steeplechase

Baltimore Bucko (GB) (Sholokhov {Ire})

Snap Decision (Hard Spun)

The Mean Queen (Ire) (Doyen {Ire})

 

Owner

Godolphin LLC

Juddmonte Farms Inc.

Klaravich Stables Inc.

 

Breeder

Calumet Farm

Godolphin LLC

Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC

 

Jockey

Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Flavien Prat

Joel Rosario

 

Apprentice Jockey

John Hiraldo

Charlie Marquez

Jessica Pyfer

 

Trainer

Steve Asmussen

Chad Brown

Brad Cox

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