2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Main Sequence are the finalists for the Eclipse Award for ‘Horse of the Year’. The winner will be announced on January 17th during the 44th annual Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park.
At this point, there’s almost no reason to explain California Chrome’s credentials for ‘Horse of the Year’. He won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness before falling short in the Belmont Stakes. He won his first start on turf to wrap up his 2014 campaign. In the process, he became the biggest ‘rock star’ horse that the sport has seen in quite some time. His colorful team of connections and improbable backstory, combined with Chrome’s outgoing and confident personality have made him a mainstream superstar.
Bayern was a horse that Bob Baffert insisted would be ‘special’ early on in his three year old campaign. He fell short of Kentucky Derby qualification and many of the less initiated horse fans dismissed him out of hand for that reason. Bayern’s biggest victory was in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but he also took the victory in the Pennsylvania Derby, the Haskell Invitational and the Woody Stephens.
Main Sequence is a somewhat controversial finalist–many horsemen would have preferred to see Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist among the candidates. Main Sequence won the Breeders’ Cup Turf and his three other starts, all Grade 1 events. He’s also up for two other Eclipse Awards for best male turf horse and champion older male. Tonalist was also shut out of the finals for ‘top three year old’–Shared Belief is in the running for that award along with Bayern and California Chrome.
Main Sequence is in the running for champion older male and that might be the toughest field of any Eclipse award. He’s joined by Wise Dan and Metropolitan Handicap Winner Palace Malice The most glaring omission in this category was Goldencents, who was second in the Met Mile and won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for the second straight year.
The votes are already in for the Eclipse Awards with 265 of a possible 280 ballots being returned.