Southern California-based horses rack up eight Eclipse Award nominations
Horses who were based in Southern California grabbed eight nominations as finalists for the 50th Eclipse Awards. The nominations announced Saturday are spread among five horses and all are trained by Bob Baffert, who was named as one the finalists for trainer of the year. Locally based Joel Rosario was nominated in the jockey category.
Authentic is also nominated for 3-year-old male horse along with Tiz the Law and Nadal. Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes. Nadal, trained by Baffert, was undefeated in four races but retired because of injury. None of the 3-year-old finalists is still running because all have been sent to the breeding shed.
Improbable is considered the favorite for older male horse and is a finalist along with Maximum Security, trained by Baffert, and Vekoma.
Monomoy Girl, undefeated in four races last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, is nominated for older female horse along with Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress.
Gamine, another Baffert trainee, is the favorite for female sprinter and is also nominated for 3-year-old filly, which is expected to be won by Swiss Skydiver, winner of the Preakness Stakes. Swiss Skydiver ran one race in Southern California, winning the Santa Anita Oaks. Shedaresthedevil is also nominated for 3-year-old filly.
The winners will be announced Jan. 28 in a virtual ceremony that will be anchored in Lexington, Ky. The awards were recently held at Gulfstream Park in South Florida in conjunction with the Pegasus races.
Essential Quality, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, headed the list of 2-year-old males, along with Fire at Will and Essential Quality. Only two winners in this category have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby in the last 10 years — Nyquist (2015) and American Pharoah (2014).
Also finalists for trainer of the year are Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox. In addition to Rosario, Irad Ortiz Jr. and John Velazquez are nominated in the jockey category. Rosario currently rides in Southern California, Ortiz has won the Eclipse the last two years and Velazquez, who rides on the East Coast, was the jockey aboard Authentic.
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