California Chrome and Arrogate will meet once more on the track. Before that, an off-track race will be settled.
California Chrome and Arrogate were among the finalists announced Thursday for 2016 Horse of the Year, the top prize that will be awarded at the Eclipse Awards.
Those trophies will be presented on Jan. 21 — one week before California Chrome races for the final time, facing Arrogate again in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
California Chrome won seven of his eight starts last year. The lone loss was to Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
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“He’s obviously going to be missed,” Alan Sherman, the son of California Chrome trainer Art Sherman, said this week. “You can’t replace a horse like him. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. We’re proud of everything he’s done, but all good things come to an end, I guess. We’re just going to enjoy it and have fun. I think he’s going to put on a really good show at Gulfstream.”
That show is scheduled to start Friday, when California Chrome is expected to ship in from California. His first workout at Gulfstream is scheduled for this weekend.
Songbird is the other finalist for Horse of the Year.
California Chrome is trying to become the eighth to win multiple Horse of the Year trophies since the Eclipse Awards were instituted in 1971. He also won as a 3-year-old in 2014, and is up for the Eclipse in the older dirt male division this year.
Arrogate never even ran against stakes company before he smashed the field — and a track record — on his way to winning the Travers at Saratoga in August. He followed that up with the half-length win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and that also could be enough to get him 3-year-old male honors even after not running in any of the Triple Crown races.
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator are the other finalists in the 3-year-old male division.
Songbird probably won’t leave the Eclipse Awards empty-handed — she’s also up for 3-year-old filly honors and would seem to be the overwhelming favorite there.
Javier Castellano is aiming for his fourth straight Eclipse as best jockey, with Jose Ortiz and Mike Smith the other finalists. Smith is a two-time winner, the last of those trophies coming in 1994.
Bob Baffert is one of three finalists for the trainer Eclipse, last year’s winner joined there by Chad Brown and Mark Casse. If Baffert wins, he would be the third five-time winner of the Eclipse in that division, joining only Bobby Frankel and seven-time winner Todd Pletcher.
Eclipse Award finalists
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Horse of the year: Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird
Female sprinter: Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining
Female turf horse: Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin
Male sprinter: A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson
Male turf horse: Flintshire, Highland Reel, Tourist
Older dirt female: Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind
Older dirt male: California Chrome, Frosted, Lord Nelson
Outstanding jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith
Outstanding apprentice jockey: Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio
Outstanding breeder: Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm
Outstanding owner: Juddmonte Farms, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm
Outstanding trainer: Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse
Steeplechase horse: Rawnaq, Scorpiancer, Top Striker
3-year-old filly: Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust, Songbird
3-year-old male: Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist
2-year-old filly: Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey
2-year-old male: Classic Empire, Not This Time, Practical Joke