Arrogate, Gun Runner and World Approval were named finalists for the 2017 Horse of the Year Award on Friday.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced finalists for the 2017 Eclipse Awards, recognizing excellence in Thoroughbred racing.
Winners in 17 horse and human categories will be announced at the 47th annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
There will be no repeat winner of Horse of the Year. The 2016 winner, California Chrome, was retired after a stunning ninth-place finish in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational last January at Gulfstream Park.
Arrogate, the 2016 Eclipse Award winner for 3-Year-Old Male, started 2017 with a bang by winning the Grade 1 Pegasus. He followed that up by capturing the $10 million Dubai World Cup. The Bob Baffert trainee’s seven-race winning streak came to an end later in the year when he finished fourth in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. Arrogate closed out the year by finishing second in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, also at Del Mar.
Gun Runner finished the year strongest among the three Horse of the Year candidates, winning his final four races — all of the Grade 1 variety — including the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.
The Steve Asmussen trainee also won the Woodward and Whitney Stakes at Saratoga and the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs during that stretch. The now 5-year-old won five of his six races in 2017. He opened his campaign in February by winning the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park before finishing second in the Dubai World Cup in March.
World Approval, a now 6-year-old gelding trained by Mark Casse, posted a breakout season in 2017, also winning five of his six races. World Approval closed the year with consecutive Grade 1 victories in the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, the Woodbine Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Mile. World Approval was coming off a 2016 campaign in which he won two of eight races.
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is one of the three finalists in the Three-Year-Old Male category, joined by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champion Battle of Midway and Travers Stakes winner West Coast.
Kentucky Oaks champion Abel Tasman is joined as a finalist for Three-Year-Old Filly by Elate and Unique Bella.
Of the 269 eligible voters representing the NTRA, the NTWAB and the Daily Racing Form, 250 (92.9 percent) took part in this year’s voting. Finalists were determined in each category by voters’ top three selections, using a 10-5-1 point basis. Eclipse Award winners are determined solely by first-place votes.
In addition to honoring the 17 winners in the horse and human categories, Frank Stronach, Thoroughbred owner, breeder and racetrack owner, will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of achievement in the Thoroughbred industry. Ray Arsenault will receive an Eclipse Award as the 2017 Horseplayer of the Year. Members of the media will be honored for outstanding coverage in six categories.
Eclipse Award finalists
The 2017 Eclipse Awards finalists (in alphabetical order):
Horse of the Year: Arrogate, Gun Runner, World Approval
Two-Year-Old Male: Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, Solomini
Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia Road, Moonshine Memories, Rushing Fall
Three-Year-Old Male: Always Dreaming, Battle of Midway, West Coast
Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman, Elate, Unique Bella
Older Dirt Male: Arrogate, Collected, Gun Runner
Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled, Songbird, Stellar Wind
Male Sprinter: Imperial Hint, Mind Your Biscuits, Roy H
Female Sprinter: Bar of Gold, Paulassilverlining, Unique Bella
Male Turf Horse: Beach Patrol, Talismanic, World Approval
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli, Off Limits, Wuheida
Steeplechase Horse: All the Way Jose, Mr. Hot Stuff, Scorpiancer
Owner: Godolphin Racing LLC, Juddmonte Farms, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm
Breeder: Besilu Stables LLC, Clearsky Farms, WinStar Farm LLC
Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith
Apprentice Jockey: Katie Clawson, Hector Rafael Diaz Jr., Evin A. Roman