Authentic Named Horse of the Year to Headline 2020 Eclipse Awards

Authentic, shown winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, was voted 2020 Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The coronavirus pandemic impacted just about everything in 2020, including sports across the globe. Thoroughbred racing was certainly impacted, but by May racetracks started reopening with limited or no fans allowed and the horses and those who care for them got back to business.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic also impacted the Eclipse Awards, honoring the champions of 2020. The awards ceremony to crown the winners was held Jan. 28, 2021 as a virtual event with portions hosted from Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

Authentic took home the top prize as Horse of the Year after winning the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic and Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, but he was just one of many remarkable racehorses and outstanding individuals honored for achievement during an extremely challenging year. Continue reading for a complete list of the 2020 Eclipse Award recipients.

Eclipse Sportswire

Horse of the Year: Authentic

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing 

2020 record: 7 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $7,170,000

Signature wins: Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, Haskell Stakes

Notable:  One of the top 3-year-olds early in the 2020 season, Authentic cemented a Horse of the Year campaign by adding to his wins in the Kentucky Derby and Haskell Stakes with a dominant 2 ¼-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Keeneland. Incredibly consistent, Authentic was never worse than second in seven starts and one of those defeats was by a neck in the Preakness Stakes.

Eclipse Sportswire

Champion Older Dirt Male: Improbable

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: WinStar Farm, CHC Inc., and SF Racing

2020 record: 5 starts – 3 firsts – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $1,810,000

Signature wins: Awesome Again Stakes, Whitney Stakes, Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes

Notable: He established himself as the dominant older male with consecutive Grade 1 wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup in June, the Whitney Stakes in August, and the Awesome Again Stakes in September. Improbable closed his season with a runner-up finish to 3-year-old stablemate Authentic in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but his status atop the older male division remained intact.

Eclipse Sportswire

Champion Older Dirt Female: Monomoy Girl

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owners: Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables

2020 record: 4 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $1,472,068

Signature wins: Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, La Troienne Stakes Presented by Oak Grove Racing and Gaming

Notable: The 2018 champion 3-year-old filly returned from the sidelines after more than 18 months off due to several injuries and didn’t miss a beat, ripping off four wins by open lengths in as many starts. She cemented a second year-end Eclipse Award with back-to-back wins in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Eclipse Sportswire

Champion Male Turf Horse: Channel Maker

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing

2020 record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

2020 earnings: $839,443

Signature wins: Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes, Sword Dancer Stakes

Notable: This English Channel gelding enjoyed the best three-race stretch of his 37-race career to close out his 6-year-old season, winning the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes by 5 ¾ lengths in August at Saratoga Race Course and the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths in October at Belmont Park before finishing his campaign with a third in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Eclipse Sportswire

Champion Female Turf Horse: Rushing Fall

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: e Five Racing Thoroughbreds

2020 record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $880,000

Signature wins: Diana Stakes, Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes

Notable: The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner has been consistently excellent throughout her career with a lifetime record of 11 wins and three seconds from 15 races. She came up just short when second in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but Rushing Fall’s victories in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes, Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, and Grade 1 Diana proved enough to secure an Eclipse Award.

Eclipse Sportswire

Champion 3-Year-Old Male: Authentic

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing 

2020 record: 7 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $7,170,000

Signature wins: Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, Haskell Stakes

Notable: Some of the buzz that surrounded Authentic early in the year dissipated when he was soundly beaten in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, but he bounced back with a game victory in the Haskell July 18 and then posted a clear win over 7-10 favorite Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Derby Sept. 5. After coming up just short to Swiss Skydiver in an unforgettable edition of the Preakness Stakes, he capped his season with a win over older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Champion 3-Year-Old Filly: Swiss Skydiver

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Owner: Peter J. Callahan

2020 record: 10 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

2020 earnings: $1,791,820

Signature wins: Preakness Stakes, Alabama Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks

Notable: Swiss Skydiver outfinished eventual Horse of the Year Authentic to win the Preakness Stakes, joining Rachel Alexandra (2009) as the only female Preakness Stakes winners since Nellie Morse in 1924 and the sixth filly to win the Preakness overall. She also won the Alabama Stakes and Santa Anita Oaks and ran second in the Longines Kentucky Oaks during a 10-race campaign in which she established herself as clearly the best of the 3-year-old filly division.

Keeneland/Coady Photography

Champion 2-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Godolphin

2020 record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $1,335,144

Signature wins: TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Claiborne Breeders' Futurity

Notable: After dominating his first two races as the favorite, Essential Quality closed from off the pace to post a career-defining victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by three-quarters of a length. Unbeaten with a pair of Grade 1 wins, he was an easy winner of the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

Keeneland/Coady Photography

Champion 2-Year-Old Filly: Vequist

Trainer: Robert E. Reid Jr.

Owners: Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, and Swilcan Stable

2020 record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $1,235,500

Signature wins: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Spinaway Stakes

Notable: Vequist was able to turn the tables on Dayoutoftheoffice in the Juvenile Fillies as she overhauled her familiar foe en route to a statement two-length win. The winner of the Spinaway Stakes earlier in the season, Vequist entered the Juvenile fillies off a two-length setback to Dayoutoftheoffice when second in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes and more than made amends at the World Championships.

Eclipse Sportswire

Champion Male Sprinter: Whitmore

Trainer: Ron Moquett

Owners: Robert V. LaPenta, Ron Moquett, and Head of Plains Partners

2020 record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

2020 earnings: $1,426,500

Signature win: Breeders' Cup Sprint

Notable: This hard-knocking gelding has made 38 career starts with 15 wins and has run first or second 26 times, but until 2020 he had never been able to win the big prize: the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Having finished second and third previously in the Sprint, Whitmore closed with a powerful rush Nov. 7 at Keeneland and stormed to a career-defining 3 ¼-length victory. With three stakes wins in 2020, including the top race for sprinters, Whitmore earned his first Eclipse Award.

Keeneland/Coady Photography

Champion Female Sprinter: Gamine

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Michael Lund Petersen

2020 record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

2020 earnings: $1,003,000

Signature wins: Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Longines Test Stakes, Longines Acorn Stakes

Notable: Gamine entered the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in control of her own destiny as it pertained to an Eclipse Award with Grade 1 wins in the Acorn and Test to her credit and a chance to show her class on a nation stage. She did not disappoint in a 6 ¼-length romp as the 11-10 favorite in the Filly and Mare Sprint, making her an easy choice for the year-end title of champion female sprinter.

Eclipse Sportswire

Outstanding Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

2020 wins: 300

2020 earnings: $21,050,726

Signature wins: Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes Presented by Runhappy, Breeders' Cup Sprint, Whitney Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes

Leading horses: Mucho Gusto, Improbable, Whitmore, Domestic Spending, Instilled Regard, Happy Saver, Newspaperofrecord

Notable: Ortiz Jr. led all North American riders by both wins and purse earnings in 2020 and ranked second by graded stakes wins with 26, behind only Flavien Prat’s 28, to bring home the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey for the third year in a row.

Coady Photography

Outstanding Apprentice Jockey: Alexander Crispin

2020 wins: 103

2020 earnings: $2,194,030

Leading horses: Singlino, Trunk of Money, Oxide

Notable: Crispin guided Singlino to victory in the First State Dash Stakes Sept. 26 at Delaware Park for his first career stakes win. A 22-year-old Puerto Rico native, Crispin graduated from Puerto Rico's famed Escuela Vocacional Hipica in December 2019. He rode his first official race Jan. 1, 2020 at Hipodromo Camarero before coming to the U.S. later in the winter. He won a strong 19% of his races in 2020.

Coady Photography

Outstanding Trainer: Brad Cox

2020 wins: 216

2020 earnings: $18,983,832

Leading horses: Monomoy Girl, Essential Quality, Knicks Go, Aunt Pearl, Shedaresthedevil

Notable: Cox ranked second by purse earnings among North American trainers with $18,983,832 in 2020 and his 30 graded stakes winners were second only to Chad Brown’s 32. Cox won the Longines Kentucky Oaks for the second time in his career when Shedaresthedevil posted a 1 ½-length win over Swiss Skydiver at 15.10-1 odds He cemented his Eclipse Award at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships by winning four races: Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (Monomoy Girl), TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (Essential Quality), Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (Knicks Go), and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Aunt Pearl).

Eclipse Sportswire

Outstanding Owner: Godolphin, LLC

2020 wins: 80

2020 earnings: $5,703,770

Leading horses: Essential Quality, Mystic Guide, Fair Maiden, Maxfield

Notable: Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s global racing empire picked up its fourth Eclipse Award as outstanding owner (one under the Darley Stable banner). Godolphin finished second in North American earnings, eighth in wins, and tied for first in graded stakes wins with eight, including three Grade 1 stakes wins.

Eclipse Sportswire

Outstanding Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC

2020 wins: 148

2020 earnings: $9,221,764

Leading horses: Swiss Skydiver, Shedaresthedevil, Global Campaign, Paris Lights

Notable: Kenny Troutt’s central Kentucky powerhouse tallied its second Eclipse Award as outstanding breeder after winning in 2016. It was well represented in 2020’s 3-year-old filly division, breeding Preakness Stakes and Alabama Stakes winner Swiss Skydiver, Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Paris Lights. WinStar led all North American breeders with 13 graded stakes wins and five Grade 1 wins.

Steeplechase Horse: Moscato

Trainer: Jack Fisher

Owner: Bruton Street

2020 record: 3 starts – 2 firsts – 0 seconds – 1 third

2020 earnings: $100,000

Signature wins: $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase, $50,000 Temple Gwathmey Hurdle

Voting Overview:

In voting that concluded Jan. 4, 2021, Eclipse Awards voters cast their ballots to rank the top three horses and individuals in each Championship division on a 10-5-1 point system. This voting established the top three finalists in each division, whose names were released on Jan. 16, 2021. The tallies below represent only first-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form, and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Voter participation rate: 238/249= 95.58%

(Name, First-Place Votes)

Horse of the Year: Authentic, 224; Monomoy Girl, 7; Swiss Skydiver, 6; Vekoma, 1.

Two-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality, 231; Jackie’s Warrior, 6; Fire At Will, 1.

Two-Year-Old Filly: Vequist, 212; Aunt Pearl, 24; Malathaat, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

Three-Year-Old Male: Authentic, 236; Tiz the Law, 2.

Three-Year-Old Filly: Swiss Skydiver, 218; Gamine, 20.

Older Dirt Male: Improbable, 218; Knicks Go; 8, Vekoma, 5; Maximum Security, 4; Global Campaign, 1; Tom’s d’Etat, 1; Whitmore, 1.

Older Dirt Female: Monomoy Girl, 234; Midnight Bisou, 4.

Male Sprinter: Whitmore, 132; Vekoma, 83; Volatile, 16; Charlatan, 4; C Z Rocket, 3.

Female Sprinter: Gamine, 219; Serengeti Empress, 13; Frank’s Rockette, 4; Guarana, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

Male Turf Horse: Channel Maker, 180; Zulu Alpha, 17; Order of Australia, 15; Factor This, 7; United, 7; Gufo, 4; Domestic Spending, 3; Arklow, 2; War of Will, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Female Turf Horse: Rushing Fall, 115; Tarnawa, 106; Magical, 8; Audarya, 5; Starship Jubilee, 2; Newspaperofrecord 1; Sharing, 1.

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr., 162; Joel Rosario, 54; John Velazquez, 14; Florent Geroux, 3; Tyler Gaffalione, 2; Flavien Prat, 1; Luis Saez, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

Apprentice Jockey: Alexander Crispin, 79; Yarmarie Correa, 74; Luis Cardenas, 38; Charlie Marquez, 15; Cristian Torres, 3; Sunday Diaz, Jr. 1; Voter Abstentions, 28.

Trainer: Brad Cox, 106; Bob Baffert, 69; Steve Asmussen, 44; Chad Brown, 8; Christophe Clement, 1; Michael Maker, 1; Peter Miller, 1; Ron Moquett, 1; Bill Mott, 1; Barclay Tagg, 1; Wesley Ward, 1; Voter Abstentions, 4.

Owner: Godolphin, LLC, 78; Spendthrift Farm, LLC, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables LLC, and Starlight Racing, 56; Klaravich Stables Inc., 47; Gary Barber, 23; Sackatoga Stables, 7; End Zone Athletics Inc., 6; Peter Callahan, 4; Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, LLC, The Elkstone Group LLC, and Bethlehem Stables, 3; Calumet Farm, 1; Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, 1; M and M Racing, 1; Maggi Moss, 1; Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey 1; Gary and Mary West, 1; Voter Abstentions, 8.

Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC, 128; Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC, 52; Calumet Farm, 45; Godolphin, 6; Charles Fipke, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, 1; Voter Abstentions, 5.

Steeplechase Horse: Moscato, 155; Snap Decision, 28; Rashaan, 21; Iranistan,2; Voter Abstentions, 32.

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