As we have seen during our heated debates regarding Horse of the Year and 3-year-old filly champion, the Eclipse Awards voting certainly brings out some strong opinions in all of us. On this blog especially, people voice their opinions loud and clear, and without much consensus. It's the same way in the Blood-Horse office, as even us writers have vastly differing outlooks on many of the upcoming awards.
Take the Sprint championship for example. To me, there is only one deserving winner of this award: Benny the Bull. The 5-year-old was spectacular is all four of his races this season, including the Dubai Golden Shaheen in which he beat a deep field of world-class sprinters. Although his season and career were ultimately cut short due to injury and he was forced to miss the Breeders' Cup, I strongly believe his four stakes wins (three of them graded) were more than enough to earn the award.
To my surprise, when discussing this division with my co-workers Lenny Shulman and Evan Hammonds, they had vastly different opinions. The conversation went something like this:
JS: At least, we can all agree that Benny wins the sprint championship, right?
LS: No way. It has to go to Midnight Lute. Did you not see the Breeders' Cup? He ran six furlongs in 1:07!
JS: Yeah, but he only raced twice this year and only won once!
LS: It doesn't matter. He is the defending champion and somebody had to knock him off in the Breeders' Cup to take it away.
JS: Evan, please be the voice of reason here. Tell him Benny wins it. You can't give a horse an award based on ONE win!
EH: What about Ventura? She deserves strong consideration too. She won three graded stakes this year, including the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, and she beat Kip Deville and all but one of the boys in the Woodbine Mile.
JS: C'mon guys. Look at the entire body of work for the year, not just the last couple months. Benny won three graded stakes and probably beat the deepest sprint field this year.
LS: Midnight Lute, hands down. He's been the best for the last two years. You can't take it away from him. His Breeders' Cup was phenomenal.
EH: I don't know who I'm voting for yet, but I will bet you anything Lenny is right; Midnight Lute will win. I've seen too many of these. That's the way the voters will go.
JS: You guys are nuts. Did you watch the Dubai race, the Tru North or the Smile Sprint? He was absolutely spectacular with that closing kick! Why does the first half of the year always seem to get forgotten about in these awards? It's like all anyone cares about is the Breeders' Cup and the rest of the year doesn't matter.
LS: You've got a lot to learn kid.
JS: You guys are getting so old that you're losing your minds...
As you can see, us bloggers are not the only ones who argue about these awards. It happens everywhere. And, as always, we never settle anything.
So, what do you say? Benny, Lute or Ventura?