Although we all have different opinions on it, I think we can all agree that we've beaten Horse of the Year debate to death. Let's move on to another topic; one that that I'm sure we also won't all agree on, but is an interesting debate nonetheless: 3-year-old female of the year.
This should be one of the closest Eclipse Award votes of the year, as both Proud Spell and Music Note have had terrific campaigns. Before I tell you which way I'm leaning, let's present each filly's résumé.
*4-2-2 from eight starts, and really, her disqualification from second to third in the Mother Goose was a bad call, so in my book she should have three runner-ups.
*Won a pair of grade I events (Kentucky Oaks and Alabama) and a pair of grade II's (Fair Ground Oaks and Delaware Oaks).
*Earned $1.5 million this season
*Defeated Music Note in Alabama
*4-1-1 from six starts
* Won three grade I races (Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle). Her fourth win was in allowance company.
*Earned $833,000 this season
*Defeated Proud Spell in Mother Goose
* Third in Ladies Classic
It's easy to see that both had outstanding seasons. You can certainly make a case for either filly. But in my opinion, Proud Spell has the edge. Why?
First of all, Proud Spell had a tougher year. Even though Music Note has the extra grade I victory, Proud Spell tested graded stakes company all eight starts and never finished off the board. She had a more physically demanding campaign that began in February and lasted until September. That's eight grades stakes races in eight months. Pretty impressive. Music Note didn't even make her first graded stakes appearance until after Proud Spell won the Kentucky Oaks.
Proud Spell also knocked off Indian Blessing, who was undefeated at the time. That Fair Grounds Oaks victory is not to be taken lightly. Indian Blessing is probably the toughest horse that either Proud Spell or Music Note defeated all year. It was a very significant win, despite only being a grade II.
Although I'm not a believer that earnings should determine a champion, Proud Spell nearly doubled Music Note's earnings. In and of itself it's not a deciding factor, but just another way to make a case for Proud Spell.
Finally, Proud Spell won the Kentucky Oaks - the biggest race of the year for 3-year-old fillies. Just like the winner of the Derby has the edge in the boys' division, the Oaks is the tiebreaker for females.
Had Music Note won the Ladies Classic I don't think there's any doubt she would have been the champion. Had she finished second to Zenyatta, I would have has to think even harder about this vote. Fact is, she finished third and that is not good enough to jump ahead of Proud Spell.
In my opinion, when Proud Spell defeated Music Note by a head in the Alabama, she clinched her championship. What do you think?