The competition couldn’t touch Gun Runner on the racetrack for almost all of 2017 and they couldn’t come close at the ballot box in voting for Horse of the Year.
Gun Runner, 5-for-6 in 2017 and one of the most consistent horses in training the last two seasons, dominated the Horse of the Year vote with 248 of the possible 250 votes cast for racing's top honor. The now 5-year-old son of Candy Ride also took home honors as champion older male during the Eclipse Awards ceremony Thursday night at Gulfstream Park.
The heavy favorite for Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup in what is expected to be his final start, Gun Runner won four Grade 1 stakes to complete his 4-year-old campaign in 2017. He won the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga and Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar to lock up his championships for owners Winchell Thoroughbred and Three Chimneys Farm.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen conditions Gun Runner and he’s now trained four winners of the Horse of the Year crown since 2007. Curlin won the title in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008 and the filly Rachel Alexandra won in 2009.
Gun Runner won the older male trophy by a wide margin over the only horse to beat him in 2017, Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate. Gun Runner outvoted Arrogate 247-3 in the older male division.
Other convincing winners celebrated at Gulfstream included Abel Tasman (3-year-old filly), Roy H (male sprinter), Forever Unbridled (older female), World Approval (turf male), Lady Eli (turf female) and West Coast.
Three categories featured fairly tight races, none closer than the 18 votes that separated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic and two-time Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro in the 2-year-old male category. Good Magic won that race by 18 votes, 131-113. The steeplechase race was a two-way battle between eventual champion Scorpiancer besting All The Way Jose by 22 votes, 92-70. Unique Bella, second in the 3-year-old filly category by a wide margin, took home champion female sprinter honors by 30 votes, 90-60 over two-time Grade 1 winner Paulassilverlining.
The human categories weren’t close with Juddmonte Farms (owner), Clearsky Farm (breeder), Chad Brown (trainer), Jose Ortiz (jockey) and Evin Roman (apprentice jockey) winning by wide margins.
Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation, which campaigned Arrogate and Paulassilverlining in 2017, picked up its fourth outstanding owner title and second straight title. Juddmonte also won in 1992 and 2003.
Brown, who trained champions Good Magic and Lady Eli in 2017, won his second straight outstanding trainer title.
The tallies below represent first-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters. (Voter participation rate: 250/269 = 92.9 percent).
Horse of the Year (Name, First-Place Votes): Gun Runner 248, Arrogate 2.
Two-Year-Old Male: Good Magic, 131; Bolt d’Oro, 113; Catholic Boy, 3; Firenze Fire, 1; Mendelssohn, 1; Solomini, 1.
Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia, Road, 161; Rushing Fall, 68; Moonshine Memories, 17; Dream Tree, 2; Dream It Is, 1; Road to Victory, 1.
Three-Year-Old Male: West Coast, 229; Always Dreaming, 14; Battle of Midway, 5; Irap, 1; Mastery, 1.
Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman, 244; Unique Bella, 5; Elate, 1.
Older Dirt Male: Gun Runner, 247; Arrogate, 3.
Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled, 237; Songbird, 8; Stellar Wind, 4; Voter Abstentions, 1.
Male Sprinter: Roy H, 241; Imperial Hint, 5; Drefong, 1; Mind Your Biscuits, 1; Stormy Liberal, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.
Female Sprinter: Unique Bella, 90, Paulassilverlining, 60; Ami’s Mesa, 41; Bar of Gold, 36; Lady Aurelia, 8; By the Moon, 5; American Gal, 3; Finley’sluckycharm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.
Male Turf Horse: World Approval, 211; Beach Patrol 20; Talismanic (GB), 11; Highland Reel (IRE), 8.
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli, 203; Wuheida (GB), 33; Off Limits, 12; Cambodia, 1; La Colonel, 1.
Steeplechase Horse: Scorpiancer (IRE), 92; All the Way Jose, 70; Mr. Hot Stuff, 35; Modem (GB), 7; Diplomat, 4; Swansea Mile (IRE), 3; Voter Abstentions, 39.
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, 143; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 31; Godolphin Racing, 21; Sol Kumin, Head of Plains, Sheep Pond Partners, 19; Klaravich Stables, Inc., and William H. Lawrence, 11; Calumet Farm, 7; End Zone Athletics, 3; Charles Fipke, 2; Coolmore, 1; e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, 1; Fox Hill Farm, 1; Live Oak Plantation, 1; John Oxley, 1; Stonestreet Stables, 1; Voter Abstentions, 7.
Breeder: Clearsky Farms, 141; WinStar Farm, 72; Charles Fipke, 8; Belisu Stables, 7; Live Oak Stud, 6; Godolphin Racing/Darley, 4; Brereton C. Jones, 3; Adena Springs, 1; Calumet Farm, 1; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.
Trainer: Chad Brown, 215; Bob Baffert, 16; Steve Asmussen, 13; Mark Casse, 2; Todd Pletcher, 2; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Jockey: Jose Ortiz, 189; Mike Smith, 45; Irad Ortiz, Jr.,10; Javier Castellano, 4; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Apprentice Jockey: Evin Roman, 232; Katie Clawson, 4; Jenn Miller, 1. Voter Abstentions, 13.