Eclipse Award Finalists Announced.


The finalists for the 2014 Eclipse Awards, which will be held Saturday, Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, were announced by National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters yesterday. It came as no surprise that GI Breeders' Cup Classic hero Bayern (Offlee Wild), GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. winner California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) and GI Breeders' Cup Turf winnerMain Sequence (Aldebaran) were named as the top three finalists for Horse of the Year. After failing to fire in the Preakness, Kaleem Shah's J “TDN Rising Star” J Bayern dominated in Belmont's GII Woody Stephens S. June 7 and proved those who doubted his ability to route wrong with a 7 1/4-length win in the 1 1/8-mile GI Haskell Invitational S. July 27. Turning in another head scratcher when 10th as the favorite in the GI Travers S. Aug. 23, the bay romped once again in the GII Pennsylvania Derby prior to his controversial victory in the Classic. Dazzling in both the GII San Felipe S. Mar. 8 and GI Santa Anita Derby Apr. 5, California Chrome became the people's horse after capturing the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Off the board in both the GI Belmont S. June 7 and the Pennsylvania Derby, the flashy chestnut rebounded with a valiant third in the Classic and boosted his chances for a championship with an easy win on the turf in Del Mar's GI Hollywood Derby Nov. 29. If Bayern or California Chrome win the highest honor, it will be the first time since Curlin's win in 2007 that a sophomore was named Horse of the Year. The pair also join last year's champion juvenile Shared Belief (Candy Ride {Arg}), who beat older foes in both the GI Pacific Classic Aug. 24 and the GI Awesome Again S. Sept. 27, in the 3-year-old male category. Opening his account with four straight wins in England in 2012, Main Sequence did not see the winner's circle again until this year when he was sent to U.S. based conditioner Graham Motion. The strapping chestnut has lit up the turf on these shores with four consecutive Grade I victories in Monmouth Park's GI United Nations S. July 6, Saratoga's GI Sword Dancer Invitational S. Aug. 17, Belmont's GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic S. Sept. 27 and the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita Nov. 1. The Flaxman Holdings homebred is also a finalist for older male and turf male. He is joined in the former by GI Met Mile winner Palace Malice (Curlin) and reigning two-time Horse of the Year and champion older male Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry). Wise Dan also defends his title against Main Sequence in the turf male category and they are joined by GI Breeders' Cup Mile upsetter Karakontie (Jpn) (Bernstein). Topping the older female category is Close Hatches (First Defence), who kicked off the season with wins in Oaklawn's GII Azeri S. Mar. 15 and GI Apple Blossom H. Apr. 11. The bay beat a field that included MGISW Princess of Sylmar (Majestic Warrior) and two-time champion Beholder (Henny Hughes) in Belmont's GI Ogden Phipps S. June 7 and romped in Saratoga's GI Personal Ensign S. Oct. 5. Don't Tell Sophia (Congaree), who upset Close Hatches in the GI Juddmonte Spinster S. at Keeneland Oct. 5 and ran second in the GI Breeders' Cup Distaff Oct. 31, and GI Breeders' Cup F/M Turf heroine Dayatthespa (City Zip) round out that category. Winner of the GI First Lady S. Oct. 4, Dayatthespa headlines the turf female division, which also includes GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup heroine Crown Queen (Smart Strike) and F/M Turf runner-up Stephanie's Kitten (Kitten's Joy). Distaff, GI Kentucky Oaks and GI Cotillion S. heroine Untapable (Tapit) is the heavy favorite for top 3-year-old filly honors and is joined by GI Acorn S. victress Sweet Reason(Street Sense) and GI Alabama S. winner Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat). GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies upsetter Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway) more than likely sealed the deal on champion juvenile filly honors with subsequent wins in the GIII Delta Downs Princess S. Nov. 22 and the GI Starlet S. Dec. 13. However, voters may still give consideration to undefeated GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Lady Eli (Divine Park). GI Spinaway S. romper Condo Commando (Tiz Wonderful) rounds out the trifecta. The juvenile male category is a bit more wide open with GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile upsetter Texas Red (Afleet Alex) taking on dual Grade I winner American Pharoah(Pioneerof the Nile) and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf hero Hootenanny (Quality Road). The top male sprinter category is also anybody's game and includes two-time GI Breeders' Cup Mile victor Goldencents (Into Mischief), two-time GI Vosburgh S. and GI Cigar Mile hero Private Zone (Macho Uno) and GI Breeders' Cup Sprint upsetter Work All Week (City Zip). 
GI Breeders' Cup F/M Sprint victress Judy the Beauty (Ghostzapper) headlines the female sprinter division. Fellow nominess include Acorn and GI Test S. winner Sweet Reason (Street Sense) and GI Ballerina S. heroine Artemis Agrotera(Roman Ruler). In the human categories, trainer Todd Pletcher seeks his seventh Eclipse award, while Hall of Famer Bob Baffert hopes to clinch his fourth and Chad Brown looks to win his first. Ken and Sarah Ramsey look to repeat in both the owner and breeder categories. They are joined by Kaleem Shah and Midwest Thoroughbreds in the owner category, and Adena Springs and Winchell Thoroughbreds in the breeder category.

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