Gun Runner tops Eclipse Award finalists

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Few surprises are expected at the 47th Eclipse Awards ceremony later this month and even less came out of the announcement of the finalists for the honors that go to the best of 2017.

Gun Runner, World Approval and Arrogate were pegged as finalists for Horse of the Year honors, with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner considered the heavy favorite for the top prize. The now 5-year-old son of Candy Ride is also expected to take home the Eclipse Award in the older dirt male category.

Finalists for the 12 equine and five human categories for the Eclipse Awards were revealed Friday. The winners will be announced during the Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony Thursday, Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park.

The winners are determined by a vote of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Daily Racing Form and National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Of the 269 eligible voters for those three groups, 92.9 percent turned in ballots.

Gun Runner isn’t the lone heavy favorite among the finalists, as Forever Unbridled (older female), Roy H (male sprinter), World Approval (turf male), Abel Tasman (3-year-old filly), Chad Brown (trainer) and Jose Ortiz (jockey) figure to take home top honors in their respective divisions.

Tighter contests are seen in the steeplechase category with Grade 1 winners All The Way Jose, Mr. Hot Stuff and Scorpiancer vying for top honors, 2-year-old male division between two-time Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, 2-year-old filly division with Calendonia Road, Rushing Fall and Moonshine Memories all featuring strong resumes, 3-year-old male division with Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming in with late-season star West Coast and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle Of Midway and the female sprinter category with Bar Of Gold, Paulassilverlining and Unique Bella in the mix.

Here is a complete list of the Eclipse Award finalists, listed alphabetically:

Horse of the Year: Arrogate, Gun Runner, World Approval. 
Two-Year-Old Male: Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, Solomini. 
Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia Road, Moonshine Memories, Rushing Fall. 
Three-Year-Old Male: Always Dreaming, Battle Of Midway, West Coast. 
Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman, Elate, Unique Bella. 
Older Dirt Male: Arrogate, Collected, Gun Runner. 
Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled, Songbird, Stellar Wind. 
Male Sprinter: Imperial Hint, Mind Your Biscuits, Roy H. 
Female Sprinter: Bar Of Gold, Paulassilverlining, Unique Bella. 
Male Turf Horse: Beach Patrol, Talismanic, World Approval. 
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli, Off Limits, Wuheida.
Steeplechase Horse: All The Way Jose, Mr. Hot Stuff, Scorpiancer.
Owner: Godolphin Racing, Juddmonte Farms, Winchell Thoroughbreds & Three Chimneys Farm. 
Breeder: Besilu Stables, Clearsky Farms, WinStar Farm. 
Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Chad Brown. 
Jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith. 
Apprentice Jockey: Katie Clawson, Hector Rafael Diaz Jr., Evin A. Roman.