Horse of the Year candidates Authentic, Improbable, and Monomoy Girl headline the finalists for the 2020 Eclipse Awards, announced Saturday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB), and the Daily Racing Form.

Authentic-Eclipse Awards
Winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic two months after capturing the Kentucky Derby likely made Authentic the Horse of the Year. The 50th Eclipse Awards will be announced on Jan. 28. (Image: Horsephotos.com)

The Eclipse Awards get their name from the iconic 18th-century racehorse and sire Eclipse, who retired unbeaten in 18 starts before siring 344 winners. Created in 1971, the awards honor both equine and human standouts in 17 categories.

TVG will announce those winners during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 5 pm PT.

More than 95% of the eligible 249 voters representing the NTRA, NTWAB, member racetrack racing officials, and Equibase representatives cast votes. The 238 voters winnowed each category to three finalists using a 10-5-1 point basis: first to third. Eclipse Awards winners are based solely on first-place votes.

Horse of the Year is Authentic’s to Lose

Authentic is the prohibitive favorite to win Horse of the Year. Along with going 5-for-7 in 2020, he was the first horse since American Pharoah in 2015 to win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Of Authentic’s five wins, three were Grade 1s and all five were stakes races. His only two losses were runners-up finishes to Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby and Swiss Skydiver in a memorable Preakness.

Authentic is also a finalist for Three-Year-Old Male, joining former stablemate Nadal and three-time Grade 1 winner Tiz the Law in that category.


2020 Eclipse Award Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Horse of the Year
  • Authentic
  • Improbable
  • Monomoy Girl
Two-Year-Old Male
  • Essential Quality
  • Fire At Will
  • Jackie’s Warrior
Two-Year-Old Filly
  • Aunt Pearl
  • Dayoutoftheoffice
  • Vequist
Three-Year-Old Male
  • Authentic
  • Nadal
  • Tiz the Law
Three-Year-Old Filly
  • Gamine
  • Shedaresthedevil
  • Swiss Skydiver
Older Dirt Male
  • Improbable
  • Maximum Security
  • Vekoma
Older Dirt Female
  • Midnight Bisou
  • Monomoy Girl
  • Serengeti Empress
Male Sprinter
  • Vekoma
  • Volatile
  • Whitmore
Female Sprinter
  • Gamine
  • Glass Slippers
  • Serengeti Empress
Male Turf Horse
  • Channel Maker
  • Order of Australia
  • Zulu Alpha
Female Turf Horse
  • Audarya
  • Rushing Fall
  • Tarnawa
Steeplechase Horse
  • Moscato
  • Rashaan
  • Snap Decision
Owner
  • Godolphin LLC
  • Klaravich Stables Inc
  • Spendthrift Farm LLC/MyRacehorse Stable/Madaket Stables LLC/Starlight Racing
Breeder
  • Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC
  • Calumet Farm
  • WinStar Farm LLC
Trainer
  • Steve Asmussen
  • Bob Baffert
  • Brad Cox
Jockey
  • Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Joel Rosario
  • John Velazquez
Apprentice Jockey
  • Luis Cardenas
  • Yarmarie Correa
  • Alexander Crispin

His connections also earned finalist spots. Trainer Bob Baffert is one of three finalists for Trainer of the Year, along with Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen. Authentic’s jockey for the Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, John Velazquez, is a finalist for Jockey of the Year. He’s up against Joel Rosario and two-time winner Irad Ortiz Jr.

And Authentic’s ownership: Spendthrift Farm, Madaket Stables, MyRacehorse Stables, and Starlight Racing, are finalists for Owner of the Year. Godolphin and Klaravich Stables are the other two finalists.

Improbable Made His Final Campaign Count

Improbable followed an undistinguished 3-year-old campaign with a dynamic 4-year-old season. He won three Grade 1s, the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Whitney, and the Awesome Again. He finished second to Authentic in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Improbable’s co-owner, WinStar Farm, hits the board as one of three Breeder of the Year finalists. It joins Calumet Farm and Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds as finalists.

He is also a finalist in the Older Dirt Male category, where Improbable runs up against rival Maximum Security for presumably the last time. Maximum Security won two Grade/Group 1s, the Saudi Cup and the Pacific Classic. Sprinter Vekoma, who won two Grade 1s — the Carter and the Met Mile — rounds out the finalists.

Vekoma heads the Male Sprinter finalists, along with Volatile and Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Whitmore.

Expect Brad Cox to Grab First Eclipse Award

Monomoy Girl won all four of her races in 2020, capping a comeback season off with her second Breeders’ Cup Distaff win in three years. That was one of four Breeders’ Cup victories for her trainer, Cox, which may have clinched him his first Trainer of the Year Eclipse Award. Cox’s charges racked up more than $19 million in 2020 earnings.

Monomoy Girl joins Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress as Older Dirt Female finalists. Serengeti Empress finds herself a finalist in the Female Sprinter category, along with Gamine and British filly Glass Slippers.

Gamine rounds out the multiple finalists. The standout sprinter, who won three Grade 1s – including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in record time – joins Swiss Skydiver and Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil as Three-Year-Old Filly finalists. Swiss Skydiver went 5-for-10 and won two Grade 1s — the Alabama and that Preakness.

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