Eclipse Night Filled with Repeat Winners
In keeping with the theme of greatness repeated set during the Breeders' Cup World Championships, the 43rd Annual Eclipse Awards held Jan. 18 saw winners become multiple winners and multiple winners further fill their trophy cases.
Wise Dan, one of four horses to win consecutive Breeders' Cup races in the fall, led the ranks of repeat winners by becoming the first horse to win three Eclipse Award titles two years in a row. The now 7-year-old son of Wiseman's Ferry again took home the top honor as Horse of the Year in addition to championship titles as Older Male and Turf Male—the same titles he won for the 2012 racing season.
"It is hard to believe he accomplishes what he does," said owner/breeder Morton Fink. "I never thought I would see a horse this good...that I owned."
Wise Dan became the sixth horse since 1971 to win back-to-back Horse of the Year honors, joining Curlin (2007-08), Cigar (1995-96), Affirmed (1978-79), Forego (1974-76), and Secretariat (1972-73).
For this year, Fink said he will encourage trainer Charlie LoPresti to put bigger challenges in front of Wise Dan.
"He holds three track records, one of them is at a mile and an eighth," Fink said while accepting the Horse of the Year trophy. "Some believe he can't run past a mile. I hope to convince Charlie, if the horse comes back like he's been, to run him on the dirt, long."
Here are the other repeat champions honored during the Eclipse ceremony held at Gulfstream Park:
• Groupie Doll was named champion female sprinter in consecutive years after winning back-to-back editions of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). Bred and raced by Fred and trainer Buff Bradley most of her career, the daughter of Bowman's Band was purchased by Mandy Pope out of the Keeneland November sale for $3.1 million.
• Royal Delta was named champion older female for the second year in a row and picked up her third career championship, having been named champion 3-year-old filly in 2011. Besilu Stables' star has been retired and will be bred to Frankel this year.
• Beholder became the first female since Silverbulletday in 1998 and 1999 to follow up a juvenile championship season with another championship at 3. Prior to Silverbulletday, this has been accomplished only three other times, by Ruffian, Open Mind, and Go for Wand.
• Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their third title as outstanding owner and added their first title as outstanding breeder. Six other owner/breeders have won both these titles in the same year—Darley/Goldophin (2012), Adena Springs/Frank Stronach (2000, 2008), Juddmonte Farms (2003), Ogden Phipps (1988), Harbor View Farm (1978), and Meadow Stable (1972, 1973).
• Todd Pletcher set a record by winning his sixth Eclipse as outstanding trainer, breaking a tie he previously held with the late Bobby Frankel.
• D. Wayne Lukas was honored with an Eclipse Award of Merit, which added to his four previous titles as outstanding trainer. Lukas also became the trainer of his 25th champion Jan. 18 when Will Take Charge was named champion 3-year-old male.
Lukas indicated during his acceptance speech that he has plenty of room for more trophies.
"When they start giving you awards, John Nerud told me, they are trying to get you to retire," he said. "Well you young trainers get ready because I'm not retiring. We're coming after you, so you'd better get up a little more early in the morning from now on. We're coming after you with a vengeance."
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