Corniche, Ce Ce and Pyfer among Eclipse Award winners

Mike Smith rides Corniche to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile horse race at the Del Mar racetrack.
Mike Smith rides Corniche to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar on Nov. 5.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Southern California, long a major player in the Eclipse Awards, came away with a meager two equine awards and one people award as the results were announced for horse racing’s highest honors at an awards ceremony at Santa Anita on Thursday.

The Bob Baffert-trained Corniche won the award for top 2-year-old after winning all four of his races including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. And Ce Ce, trained by Michael McCarthy, was given the Eclipse for top Female Sprinter. Ce Ce won four of her six races including the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Jessica Pyfer, who rides the Southern California circuit, was the winner of top Apprentice Jockey.


The big award went to Knicks Go, who won both Horse of the Year and top Older Dirt Male. He won five of his seven races and was the easy winner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Dr. Jeff Blea remains without a veterinary license, leaving the CHRB without a full-time equine medical director for up to a year.

The most discussed award of the night was for top 3-Year-Old Male, which went to Essential Quality, who never beat Medina Spirit in head-to-head competition but did win the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes. Medina Spirit was second in the voting done by members of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Daily Racing Form and National Thoroughbred Racing Assn. A total of 235 of 245 eligible voters participated in most of the categories.

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but has been the subject of controversy after testing positive for a legal medication, but not legal on race day, after the Kentucky Derby. A hearing has been set for next week by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, some 10 months after the positive was announced by Baffert, his trainer.

Medina Spirit died after a workout on Dec. 6 and the necropsy results will be announced by the California Horse Racing Board on Friday morning. Currently, his death is being categorized as a “sudden death” meaning it was not a musculoskeletal break down.

Brad Cox was top Trainer for the second straight year and Joel Rosario was named top Jockey for the first time. Godolphin won the awards for Breeder and Owner.

Other equine winners were Echo Zulu (2-Year-Old Filly), Malathaat (3-Year-Old Filly), Letruska (Older Dirt Female), Jackie’s Warrior (Male Sprinter), Yibir (Male Turf), Loves Only You (Female Turf) and The Mean Queen (Steeplechase).