Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic took home the Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male titles for 2020 during Thursday’s night’s 50th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony conducted virtually for the first time due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Authentic earned 224 of a possible 238 first-place votes in Horse of the Year voting to finish well clear of the other vote getters - champion older dirt female Monomoy Girl (seven), champion 3-year-old filly (six) and Vekoma (one).
The Eclipse Awards are voted upon by the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters, National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Daily Racing Form. The votes are tabulated and certified by Strothman and Company.
Authentic’s meteoric rise saw him go from early November 2019 maiden winner to the winner of five of seven – all five graded stakes, including the Derby, Classic and Grade 1 Haskell – and earner of $7,170,000 in 2020.
The son of Into Mischief started the season running for the large partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Fred Hertrich III, John Fielding and Golconda Stables before partners were added and others sold their interest. Trained by Bob Baffert, Authentic won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland for the partnership of Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket and Starlight.
Swiss Skydiver, who handed Authentic one of his two defeats in the Preakness Stakes, earned champion 3-year-old filly honors after a season where she also won the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks, Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks and Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park.
Monomoy Girl, champion 3-year-old filly in 2018 who missed the entire 2019 season, rebounded in 2020 with an unbeaten campaign that landed her a second Eclipse Award.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore earned the champion male sprinter title, while Gamine, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, earned the female sprinter title.
Voters bucked some recent trends by not awarding championships to European invaders who made one winning start in the U.S. in Breeders’ Cup grass races and awarded honors to Channel Maker in the male turf and Rushing Fall in the female turf divisions. The female turf division produced the closest race among the horses with Rushing Fall earning 115 votes to Tarnawa's 106.
The voters did fall in line with usual trends and awarded the winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Essential Quality) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Vequist) with titles in their respective divisions.
Moscato earned the champion steeplechaser award and ended the night as the oldest Eclipse Award winner. He won two of three starts during the significantly shortened National Steeplechase Association season – which did not feature any fall stakes and barely any spring events – for trainer Jack Fisher and owners Bruton Street-US. The now 10-year-old English-bred son of Hernando became the fourth Eclipse Award winner for Fisher.
Irad Ortiz Jr. topped the human categories with his third straight Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey, after a season that saw him win two Breeders’ Cup races, his third Saratoga riding title since 2015 and a purse haul of more than $21 million during the pandemic altered season.
Brad Cox took home his outstanding trainer title after his runners earned a career best $18,983,832 in purses to go with 216 victories from 903 starts. In addition to Monomoy Girl, Cox trained Essential Quality, Knicks Go (Dirt Mile) and Aunt Pearl (Juvenile Fillies Turf) to Breeders’ Cup victories. He finished second in North America by purse earnings behind fellow finalist Steve Asmussen ($20,162,064).
WinStar Farm collected a second outstanding breeder honor, adding to its previous Eclipse Award in 2018 to go with an outstanding owner crown in 2010.
Godolphin won its third Eclipse Award for outstanding owner, adding that honor to prior crowns in 2009 and 2012 along with a shared title in 2006 with Lael Stables as Darley Stables. The Maktoum family’s operation also won the Eclipse Award for outstanding breeder in 2012 with Darley Stud.
Alexander Crispin won the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice jockey, becoming the 11th Maryland-based rider to win the award. He ranked second among apprentice finalists by wins (103) and purse earnings ($2.194 million) in 2020. He edged Yarmarie Correa by just five votes, 79-74, in the tightest race in the human categories.
Eclipse Award voting
Essential Quality, 231; Jackie’s Warrior, 6; Fire At Will, 1.