The three finalists for champion 2-year-old male of 2013 each made three starts, and each has a grade I victory. The situation didn't make it easy for Eclipse Award voters. Or did it?
It's fairly common for the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) to be named champion 2-year-old male. Gary and Mary West's New Year's Day , by Street Cry, won the race in 2013 following his maiden victory and a third-place finish in his career debut.
From 2003 to 2012, eight winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile went on to be named champion 2-year-old male. In 2009 European shipper Vale of York won the Juvenile, but Lookin At Lucky was the champion; in 2004 Wilko won the Juvenile, but Declan's Moon bagged the Eclipse Award.
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.
The other two finalists for 2013 have fairly strong credentials.
Havana , owned by Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith, finished a strong second behind New Year's Day in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The Dunkirk colt was undefeated in two previous starts: his career debut in maiden company and the grade I Champagne Stakes.
Shared Belief, owned by Jungle Racing, KMN Racing, Hollendorfer, Litt, Solis II, and Todaro, wrapped up his 2013 season three-for-three, including victories in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) and the post-Breeders' Cup CashCall Futurity (gr. I). He won those three races by a combined 19 1/2 lengths.
It's possible the sport could have a 2-year-old champion that won't compete as a 3-year-old. It was announced Dec. 26 that New Year's Day, due to injury, was retired and would stand at stud in 2013.
Meanwhile, Shared Belief missed a scheduled workout Jan. 12 because of an abscess on his right front foot. The Candy Ride gelding, however, remains on track for the early-season 3-year-old races.