Valuing Breeders' Cup Victories in Close Eclipse Contests
For this year's Eclipse Award ballot, my approach to each category fits one of three descriptions:
1. Slam Dunk 100% no brainer likely to be unanimous
*Horse of the Year, Two-year-old male, two-year-old female, three-year-old male, male sprinter, and older female
2. Had to think about it but most likely voting with the majority
*Older dirt male, male turf horse, female turf horse, owner, breeder, trainer, jockey
3. Skull-busting choice
*three-year-old filly, female sprinter
For the two categories that I (and many others) considered a "skull-busting choice" I ultimately defaulted on the Breeders' Cup World Championships as a deciding factor--not because I view the Breeders' Cup as a coronation no matter what, but because it is the best races a horse can win in their divisions.
Eclipse Award debates can be contentious (e.g. Horse of the Year 2008-2010) and other years everything either makes perfect sense or it's such a grab bag that legitimate cases can be made for multiple horses. That's certainly how I feel about this year. I don't expect Found or Wavell Avenue to win, but votes for them is consistent with liking to see champions win Grade 1, open division races (a reason I prefered Curlin and Blame to Zenyatta in 2008 & 2010, respectively). Others may value other variables more, and that's fine.
It's been a fantastic year of racing, and with two of my three Horse of the Year names and seven potential champions returning next year, here's hoping for more of the same in 2016!