As was the case during November's Breeders' Cup World Championships, Kentucky-based horses and connections were strongly represented as finalists announced Saturday for the 17 equine and human categories that make up the 2012 Eclipse Awards.
Keeneland-based Wise Dan is in position to make history when the winners are announced at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19 as the Breeders' Cup Mile winner is a finalist in three categories, including Horse of the Year.
Joining Wise Dan as Horse of the Year finalists are dual classic winner I'll Have Another and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned.
Wise Dan and Fort Larned, who are trained by Kentucky-based conditioners Charlie Lopresti and Ian Wilkes, respectively, are also finalists for champion older male along with Breeders' Cup Turf hero Little Mike. Wise Dan and the Dale Romans-trained Little Mike also join multiple Grade I winner Point of Entry as finalists for champion turf male.
Should Wise Dan sweep all three categories, he would be the first horse since the legendary John Henry in 1981 to capture all three of those honors in the same year.
The banner season Romans had in 2012 was fully recognized as the Louisville native was among the finalists for outstanding trainer alongside Hall of Famers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher. In addition to Little Mike, Romans also has two other Eclipse finalists with Shackleford among the trio in the running for champion male sprinter and fellow Grade I winner Tapitsfly a finalist for champion turf female.
Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint heroine Groupie Doll is also a finalist in multiple categories. Owned and bred by the Frankfort-based father and son duo of Fred and Buff Bradley, Groupie Doll is a cinch to take home champion female sprinter honors and is also a finalist for older female alongside champion Royal Delta and Include Me Out.
The 3-year-old male category produced no surprises with I'll Have Another, Bodemeister and Union Rags as the finalists while champion 3-year-old filly will be a battle between Grade I winners Questing, My Miss Aurelia and Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can.
Despite breeding and campaigning both Wise Dan and his graded stakes winning half-brother Successful Dan, Morton Fink was one of the mild surprises as he was not among the finalists for either outstanding owner or outstanding breeder.
Two-Year-Old Male: Shanghai Bobby, Uncaptured, Violence
Two-Year-Old Filly: Beholder, Dreaming of Julia, Executiveprivilege
Three-Year-Old Male: Bodemeister, I'll Have Another, Union Rags
Three-Year-Old Filly: Believe You Can, My Miss Aurelia, Questing
Older Male: Fort Larned, Little Mike, Wise Dan
Older Female: Groupie Doll, Include Me Out, Royal Delta
Male Sprinter: The Lumber Guy, Shackleford, Trinniberg
Female Sprinter: Contested, Groupie Doll, Mizdirection
Male Turf Horse: Little Mike, Point of Entry, Wise Dan
Female Turf Horse: Marketing Mix, Tapitsfly, Zagora
Steeplechase Horse: Demonstrative, Divine Fortune, Pierrot Lunaire
Horse of the Year: Fort Larned, I'll Have Another, Wise Dan
Owner: Godolphin Racing LLC, Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., Reddam Racing LLC
Breeder: Adena Springs, Darley, Brereton C. Jones
Trainer: Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans
Jockey: Javier Castellano, Ramon Dominguez, John Velazquez
Apprentice Jockey: Jose Montano, Irad Ortiz Jr., Angel Suarez
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl