The latest horse racing results certainly raise three year old Eclipse Champion issues and debates
The Breeders’ Cup results should play a major role in the male three-year old Eclipse Champion
Are the Eclipse Awards really in California this year the same week as the Super Bowl? Anyway……
If we are going to be honest the Eclipse Awards don’t hold the prestige they once did. Perhaps for some they do, but for many racing fans and students of the game they just don’t. I’d argue earning your way into the Hall of Fame is a far more significant accomplishment for a horse, trainer or jockey. When you get a vote for California Chrome as the best turf horse a few years ago what do you really expect? Voters abstain, and some make up their minds based on geography and personal feelings. Case in point voters who have already said publicly they would not vote for Medina Spirit regardless of what happens on the racetrack. It is only fair to keep in mind the Medina Spirit Kentucky Derby betamethasone controversy likely will not be resolved by the time Eclipse votes are made. Some of the voters just look up stats and don’t even watch the races and follow the sport the way a voter should. The Eclipse Awards are watered down and need revamping. They are still the Eclipse Awards however and what looks like a foregone conclusion just might not be.
Now let’s get to the interesting stuff. That is where this year’s three-year old Eclipse Championship should be fun.
To many it seems Essential Quality is the clear cut best three-year old and last year’s two year old Eclipse Champion should have the edge this year. That makes sense right? Well how about if Medina Spirit with a smart gate to wire win over older horses in the win and you’re in Grade 1 Awesome Again comes back and wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic? That will make the big horse everyone thinks is little two for two over Essential Quality who many have already crowned. On resumes, Medina Spirit wins that contest. On personal feelings, who knows? Sure it is a what if, but this is horse racing and this is a what if column today.
Ah, if it was only that simple. What happens if Hot Rod Charlie blitzes the Classic leaving both Essential Quality and Medina Spirit in his wake? Is that enough to get him some votes? Well if California Chrome got a vote for turf horse that wasn’t a typo-o, and some voters won’t vote for the Eclipse Award for the top apprentice or steeplechase horse who knows.
How about this what if. None of the three-year olds win the Classic. Jackie’s Warrior blitzes older horses in the Sprint like plenty of crystal ball handicappers who can pick races before they are even drawn think he will, and they may be right, what happens then? Can he be three-year old champion? He’d certainly be dominant enough and have the resume of a champion. Can he be outright champion sprinter? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see either of those scenarios occur. You’d have a Steve Asmussen trained horse win an Eclipse the same year some of the voters who vote for him refuse to vote for Medina Spirit because of the Bob Baffert positive. I guess they won’t look up who has more positives between Steve Asmussen and Bob Baffert. If Jackie’s Warrior parlays a Breeders’ Cup win into a Grade 1 Malibu win that has to help his claim to fame especially if a three-year old does not win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
This is a game of long-shots and beating the odds. Let’s say no three-year olds win the Classic, and Jackie’s Warrior goes down in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Far from an impossibility. Life is Good runs away and romps in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and comes back and he wins the Malibu, possibly beating Jackie’s Warrior. Under those circumstances can a case be made for him. he just may have truly been the best three-year old of them all this year had things gone his way. They didn’t and he is still here.
The race for the three-year old Eclipse Champion is an interesting one with what could turn out to be quite a few possibilities amongst some very talented horses. people like to talk about quality of the crops, I’d argue we have some really nice three-year olds this year. Dare I say anyone remember Following Sea?
While Essential Quality may be the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, or maybe second choice to Knicks Go, I would have to say Medina Spirit has the advantage over him for the “rights to the Eclipse Award.” Yes he will have to earn it on the racetrack but a second win over Essential Quality making him two for two against the two-year old champ by right earns him that trophy. If that plays out and he doesn’t win, you have to ask just what is the criteria to win that award anyway and what does it really mean?
And the winner is ______________! Feel free to cast your vote in the comments below. If you’re the first comment who gets it right you’ll get a free $100 win bet on next year’s Pegasus Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
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