The biggest thing happening off the track in US racing this month is the 52nd Eclipse Awards, which will be handed out to last year’s champions at a ceremony in Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday evening. The awards cover every racing category, with some categories straightforward choices and others keenly contested. Here we look at the likely winners of the most prestigious awards in racing.

Two-Year-Old Male Contenders

Cave Rock, Forte, Victoria Road

The juvenile awards are relatively simple this year, with G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner FORTE difficult to oppose. He also won the G1 Hopeful at Saratoga and the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and is the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Two-Year-Old Filly Contenders

Leave No Trace, Meditate, Wonder Wheel

The same goes for the distaff side, with G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner WONDER WHEEL also claiming the G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland and making a cast-iron case for championship honors.

Three-Year-Old Male

Epicenter, Modern Games, Taiba

This category has sparked more debate than any other. British miler Modern Games is unlikely and anyway has better prospects in another category, but three-time G1 winner Taiba Santa Anita Derby, Pennsylvania Derby, Malibu – has strong claims. However, those G1s are not the most prestigious in the schedules, and Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes runner-up EPICENTER, who won the marquee G1 Travers at Saratoga, has the greater body of work and should prevail.

Three-Year-Old Filly

Nest, Secret Oath, Tuesday

An easier one. Secret Oath beat NEST in the G1 Kentucky Oaks but their careers took wildly diverging paths thereafter. Secret Oath didn’t win again, whereas Nest took down the G1 Coaching Club America Oaks and G1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga by wide margins, beating Secret Oath each time.

Older Dirt Male

Flightline, Life Is Good, Olympiad

It has to be the unbeaten, unbeatable, out-of-this-world, outstanding FLIGHTLINE. No-one else comes close.

Older Dirt Female

Clairiere, Goodnight Olive, Malathaat

Last year’s champion three-year-old filly MALATHAAT looks booked for another award after a campaign that culminated in the boom-boom-boom of three G1 wins – Personal Ensign, Spinster, and a dramatic Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She finished ahead of G1 Ogden Phipps winner Clairiere in two of those races and is an automatic choice.

Male Sprinter

Cody’s Wish, Elite Power, Jackie’s Warrior

This is trickier. Elite Power won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint; Jackie’s Warrior was dominant until coming up short in his biggest tests in the G1 Forego Stakes and BC Sprint; CODY’S WISH won the Forego on his only start in the sprint division. Voters will want to reward the heartwarming backstory of Cody’s Wish and that may tip the verdict in his favor.

Female Sprinter

Caravel, Echo Zulu, Goodnight Olive

The G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel had a fine season, but not as impactful as that of GOODNIGHT OLIVE. She went unbeaten in four including the G1 Ballerina at Saratoga and the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland, in which she comfortably accounted for Echo Zulu.

Male Turf Horse

Modern Games, Nations Pride, Rebel’s Romance

A British clean sweep, demonstrating the ongoing lack of power in the US turf division. The progressive Rebel’s Romance ran a career-best to win the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, but his barn mates MODERN GAMES was equally impressive when taking the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile and also had the G1 Woodbine Mile on his resume. There isn’t too much doubt about this one.

Female Turf Horse

In Italian, Regal Glory, War Like Goddess

This could go any way. In Italian won the G1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga and G1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland before a gallant second place in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf; barn mate Regal Glory won three G1s – Jenny Wiley, Just A Game, Matriarch – but was runner-up in the First Lady; WAR LIKE GODDESS was dominant over longer distances and beat the boys in the G1 Joe Hirsch at Aqueduct. Perhaps the latter may sneak it, although it’ll be close.

Steeplechase Horse

Down Royal, Hewick, Snap Decision

A category that doesn’t get a huge amount of limelight. Dual G1 winner Snap Decision may have blown his chance with a very poor performance in the G1 Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills, a race won in dominant style by the Irish raider HEWICK on his sole start Stateside. Voters may not think too hard about this one and that race could prove the pivot.

52nd Eclipse Awards Owner of the Year

Peter Brant, Godolphin LLC, Klaravich Stables Inc.

Human awards can be the hardest to call, given unconscious – or even conscious – bias toward one contender or another. Peter Brant had a magnificent year with his fillies and mares but GODOLPHIN won three races at the Breeders’ Cup with Mischief Magic, Modern Games, and Rebel’s Romance, and that could be the ballgame.

52nd Eclipse Awards Breeder of the Year

Godolphin, Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, Summer Wind Equine

Godolphin will be the choice of many to take this one too, but the evening will be a celebration of Flightline’s freakish ability, and his breeder SUMMER WIND EQUINE, owned by Jane Lyon, may well pick up this award as collateral excelsior.

52nd Eclipse Awards Trainer of the Year

Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher

This one is up for grabs too. CHAD BROWN earned the most money, had the best strike-rate of the top trainers, signed for 51 Graded wins, won the G1 Preakness, and dominated the turf scene until the Europeans swept the board at the Breeders’ Cup. Todd Pletcher had three likely champions in Forte, Malathaat, and Nest, as well as earning more than $30m in purses, a personal record. It’s 6-5 and pick ‘em.

52nd Eclipse Awards Jockey of the Year

Irad Ortiz, Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario

The numbers point to IRAD ORTIZ, who set new North American single-season records for earnings and stakes victories and also won the G1 Belmont on Mo Donegal, not to mention three Breeders’ Cup wins. Flavien Prat rode the Flightline lightning but this might be the one that gets away from the (spoiler alert) Horse of the Year champ.

Apprentice Jockey

Jeiron Barbosa, Vicente Del-Cid, Jose Antonio Gomez

If the numbers prove crucial in this category too, then VICENTE DEL-CID has the right credentials. The Guatemalan sensation won more races than any other apprentice and was second only to Irad Ortiz on the general list, and ranked third for earnings among his fellow bugboys behind Jose Antonio Gomez.

52nd Eclipse Awards Horse of the Year

The obvious choice is the right choice. FLIGHTLINE stands alone.

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