Capital Region connections scored Saturday night in the annual presentation of Eclipse Awards at Gulstream Park.
As expected, the top 2-year-old male horse was Starlight Racing’s Shanghai Bobby, the Hopeful winner at Saratoga Race Course who capped a perfect season with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg is co-managing partner of Starlight Racing with Jack Wolf, who spends his summers in Saratoga Springs. Leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, they sold half-interest in their star to Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith of Coolmore, one of the most powerful breeding and racing operations in the world.
Shanghai Bobby was the highest vote-getter of the night, named on 253 of 254 ballots returned.
Shanghai Bobby will make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade III Holy Bull at Gulfstream next Saturday. Lucarelli is hoping his colt makes it to the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby in May.
It was the first Exclipse Award win for Starlight, which previously finished second with both Hilda’s Passion and Octave.
Mechanicville native Chad Brown also celebrated an Eclipse win when Zagora was named the top female turf horse. Zagora was also a Breeders’ Cup champion, taking the Filly and Mare Turf.
Wise Dan, meanwhile. easily beat out I’ll Have Another for Horse of the Year.
Wise Dan won five of six starts in 2012, winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile in course-record time and two other Grade I turf stakes. The 5-year-old gelding’s lone defeat was by a head in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, where he gave weight to winner Ron the Greek.
Wise Dan received 194 votes in balloting by the National Thoroughbred Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters to easily outdistance I’ll Have Another (30) and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (12).
Trained by Charles Lopresti, Wise Dan became the first gelding to win Horse of the Year since John Henry in 1984. He also became the first horse to sweep Horse of the Year, top older male and top male turf horse honors since John Henry in 1981.
I’ll Have Another won all four starts, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He was scratched from the Belmont Stakes due to a tendon injury that led to his retirement.
Other winners included Royal Delta as top older female, Alabama winner Questing as the top 3-year-old filly, Beholder, 2-year-old filly, Trinniberg as the top male sprinter and Groupie Doll as the top female sprinter.
In addition, Ramon Dominguez won as outstanding jockey, Jose Montano as outstanding apprentice jockey, Dale Romans as outstanding trainer, Godolphin Racing LLC as outstanding owner and Darley as outstanding breeder.
Dominguez, who suffered a fractured skull in a spill Friday at Aqueduct, won for the third straight year. He set a North American thoroughbred racing earnings record with $25,582,252 and had 341 wins from 1,398 mounts despite missing nearly two months due to neck and foot injuries.
There were 272 eligible voters for the Eclipse Awards from Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, whose voting members include racetrack racing secretaries and members of Equibase. Of those 272 voters, 254 returned ballots. Winners in each category are determined solely by first-place votes, which are pooled.
Earlier, media awards were presented to Ryan Goldberg of Daily Racing Form (feature writing), Mary Simon of the late Thoroughbred Times (news writing), Tom Keyser of Daily Racing Form (photography), Glenye Cain Oakford of Daily Racing Form (audio and multi-media Internet), NBC Sports (live television), and ESPN (television feature).
RON THE GREEK WINS
On the racing program earlier in the day, what was billed as a two-horse race turned into a one-sided victory for Ron the Greek, who cruised to a decisive 111⁄4-length triumph over Cash Rules in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic. Mucho Macho Man, the defending champ and 1-5 favorite in the Classic, stopped abruptly after racing forwardly for six furlongs and was ultimately eased to the wire by jockey Mike Smith.