Authentic, Improbable and Monomoy Girl were named the finalists for the 2020 Horse of the Year Eclipse Award on Saturday.
Based on his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic, Authentic looks like the likely winner when the Eclipse champions are announced on Thursday, Jan. 28, during a virtual ceremony that will be televised on TVG.
Trained by Bob Baffert, who is one of three finalists in his category, Authentic defeated stablemate Improbable by 2 1/4 lengths in the BC Classic at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
Authentic was beaten in just two of his seven starts in 2020, second to Honor A. P. in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on June 6 and second by a neck to the filly Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness, which was rescheduled from May to Oct. 3 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If he’s the leading contender for Horse of the Year, he’s an even bigger favorite to come away with the Eclipse for 3-Year-Old Male, after beating Tiz the Law by 1 1/4 lengths in the rescheduled Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby. Authentic; Tiz the Law, who won the Belmont and Travers for Saratoga Springs-based Sackatoga Stable; and Nadal are the finalists in that division.
Swiss Skydiver has the most impressive resume in the 3-Year-Old Filly division. Besides beating males in the Preakness, she won four other graded stakes in 10 starts, including the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga Race Course.
Monomoy Girl, the 2018 3-Year-Old Filly champion who did not race in 2019 because of a variety of physical issues, came back to go 4-for-4 in 2020, capped by a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, so she’s well-positioned to win another championship, for Older Dirt Female.
Mechanicville native Chad Brown has won the trainer Eclipse the last four years but will see his streak stopped, as he was not among the finalists for 2020. Baffert, Steve Asmussen and Monomoy Girl’s trainer, Brad Cox, made the list.
The jockey finalists are Irad Ortiz Jr., Joel Rosario and 49-year-old Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who last won the Eclipse in 2004 and 2005.
Finalists in 17 equine and human categories were selected by 249 voters representing the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.
The three finalists in each division were determined by voters’ top three using a 10-5-1 point basis, but the actual championships are determined solely by the number of first-place votes.
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; Klaravich Stables; Spendthrift Farm LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC, and Starlight Racing.
Breeder — Peter E. Blum, Calumet Farm, WinStar Farm.
Trainer — Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Brad Cox.
Jockey — Irad Ortiz Jr., Joel Rosario, John Velazquez.
Apprentice Jockey — Luis Cardenas, Yarmarie Correa, Alexander Crispin.
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