Horse Racing -- Thoughts on the 2004 Eclipse Awards
Many who know me are well aware one of my main passions is Horse Racing, and to that end, here are my thoughts on who should be the Eclipse Award winners of 2004:
Two year old colt: Declan's Moon. He may have skipped the BC, but he beat Declan's Moon and Proud Accolade in the Hollywood Futurity, and Roman Ruler in the Del Mar Futurity.
Two year old filly: Sweet Catomine. If any horse breaks the "Breeders' Cup Jinx" as far as the Kentucky Derby, she may be it. She dominated her own sex all year and I suspect would have beaten the boys in the Hollywood Futurity had she gone, possibly even stealing Horse of the Year had she done that.
Three year old colt and male turf: Kitten's Joy. While Smarty Jones had the great year, Kitten's Joy's win in the Turf Classic, coupled with his BC Turf effort where a better ride probably makes him the winner in my opinion makes him the three year old champion as well as male turf champiom.
Three year old filly and female turf: Ouija Board. While Ashado did win the three biggest races of the year (KY Oaks, CCA Oaks and BC Distaff, she also had some quetionable losses whereas Ouija Board's only loss came against males in the Arc de Triomphe. Ouija Board took care of business in the Filly & Mare Turf, and that is enough in my opinion.
Three year old dirt: Smarty Jones. I normally do a three year old turf honor, but since I made Kitten's Joy the top three year old overall, it becomes a dirt award that "Smarty" deserves.
Older Male: Ghostzapper. He did everything asked, though like many I would have liked to have seen more than four starts out of him.
Older female: Azeri. Although she wasn't perfect, she had a solid year, and her fifth in the BC Classic against the boys probably sealed this.
Sprinter: Pico Central. He beat Speightstown in the Vosburgh, and that's what matters.
Trainer: Steve Assumssen. He had the kind of season we may never see again, blowing away Dale Baird's record for most wins in a year.
Jockey: John Velasquez. If he wasn't already in the elite level of jockeys, he joined that in 2004.
Apprentice: Pablo Fragoso. He did it in New York against what can be the toughest jockey colony in the world at times.
Owner: Michael Gill. Love or hate him, he dominated the day-to-day racing to such a degree that it overcomes what other owners of stakes horses did in 2004.
Breeder: Frank Stronach. Ghostzapper by himself might have won him this honor.
Horse of the Year: Smarty Jones. As great a year Ghostzapper had, the fact is, Smarty Jones brought many people to the sport and had it in the mainstream media in a way not seen in over 20 years. Ghostzapper may have had the better year on the track than all of them, but "Smarty" does deserve to be Horse of the Year.