Tragedy ended the spectacular season of Points Offthebench, while Secret Circle made a memorable return to racing, and Sahara Sky delivered a stirring victory in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), as those three earned recognition as 2013 Eclipse Award finalists in the male sprinter division.
Winners in the 17 horse and human categories will be announced at the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The ceremony will air live on HRTV.
Southern California-based Points Offthebench won four races in a row, capped by back to back scores in grade I races when the Benchmark gelding captured the Bing Crosby Stakes on the Del Mar Polytrack and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes on the Santa Anita Park dirt.
Donnie Crevier and Charles Martin's Points Offthebench was preparing for a start in the XpressBet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita when he broke down Oct. 26 at the Arcadia, Calif. track. He suffered a fractured right front fetlock and was euthanized.
"He's been a tremendous horse. He was the nicest horse you would ever find," said Martin, noting that he was almost a pet to trainer Tim Yakteen's youngest son.
In both grade I wins, Points Offthebench defeated Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Goldencents. Those victories were further flattered by Goldencents' Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) win.
Bred in California by Gary Rocks, Points Offthebench would be the second Cal-bred in three years to be named champion male sprinter, joining 2011 winner Amazombie.
Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman's Secret Circle found his inner Da Hoss to win a Breeders' Cup race off a single prep, taking an allowance-optional claiming race Oct. 14 at Santa Anita before posting a neck victory over Laugh Track in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The Sprint win makes Secret Circle a two-time Breeders' Cup winner as the son of Eddington captured the 2011 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs.
Bred in Kentucky by Willmott Stables, Secret Circle is trained by Bob Baffert, who conditioned 2007 champion male sprinter Midnight Lute for the same owners.
Jerry Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd's Sahara Sky rallied from sixth in the final quarter-mile of the Met Mile at Belmont Park, catching Cross Traffic in the final strides. Sahara Sky, who was rested after the Met Mile win, registered wins at the one-turn mile, seven furlongs, in the San Carlos Stakes (gr. II); and six furlongs, in the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II).
Bred in Florida by Martin Stables, Sahara Sky would be the first Met Mile winner to be named champion male sprinter (or champion sprinter) since Aldebaran in 2003.