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Knicks Go Leads Eclipse Award Finalists

Winners will be announced Feb. 10 at a dinner and ceremony at Santa Anita Park.

Knicks Go (right) sets the pace on his way to a frontrunning victory in the 2021 Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar

Knicks Go (right) sets the pace on his way to a frontrunning victory in the 2021 Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar

Skip Dickstein/Tim Lanahan

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced Jan. 15 the finalists for the 2021 Eclipse Awards, recognizing excellence in Thoroughbred racing.

Winners in 17 horse and human categories will be announced on TVG, and other outlets, during the 51st annual Eclipse Awards Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. ET in dinner and ceremony at Santa Anita Park. The evening will culminate with the announcement of the 2021 Horse of the Year.

Korea Racing Authority's Knicks Go , winner of the Longines Breeder's Cup Classic (G1), is expected to win the award.

Of the 245 eligible voters represented by the NTRA, consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, the NTWAB, and Daily Racing Form, 235 (95.9%) took part in the voting. Finalists were determined in each category by voters' top three selections, using a 10-5-1 point basis. Eclipse Award winners are determined solely by first-place votes.

The 2021 Eclipse Awards Finalists, with the exception of Horse of the Year, listed (in alphabetical order) are:

2-year-old male: Corniche, Jack Christopher, Modern Games
2-year-old filly: Echo Zulu, Juju's Map, Pizza Bianca
3-year-old male: Essential Quality , Life Is Good, Medina Spirit
3-year-old filly: Clairiere, Malathaat, Santa Barbara
Older dirt male: Knicks Go, Maxfield , Mystic Guide
Older dirt female: Letruska, Marche Lorraine, Shedaresthedevil                
Male sprinter: Aloha West, Flightline, Jackie's Warrior
Female sprinterBella Sofia, Ce Ce, Gamine
Male turf horse: Domestic Spending, Space Blues, Yibir
Female turf horse: Loves Only You, Santa Barbara, War Like Goddess   
Steeplechase horse: Baltimore Bucko, Snap Decision, The Mean Queen
Owner: Godolphin, Juddmonte Farms, Klaravich Stables
Breeder: Calumet Farm, Godolphin, Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings
Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Brad Cox
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr., Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario
Apprentice jockey: John Hiraldo, Charlie Marquez, Jessica Pyfer

Some notable grade 1-winning horses that were not chosen as finalists include Search Results in the 3-year-old filly category,  Smooth Like Strait and Colonel Liam in the male turf horse division, and Althiqa in the female turf horse category.

Luis Saez was not among the finalists among jockeys after ranking third by earnings and victories in North America in 2021. He was fourth behind the three finalists by graded stakes victories.

Voting is expected to be close in at least several divisions, including in the 3-year-old male category, a group led by Godolphin's Essential Quality and the late Medina Spirit, owned by Zedan Racing Stables. They were third and second, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

November 13, 2021: Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality at his new home, Darley America in Lexington, Ky...<br>
Rick Samuels/The Blood-Horse
Photo: Rick Samuels
Essential Quality at Godolphin at Jonabell, home of the Darley stallions

Medina Spirit's post-race positive test for betamethasone after winning the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs could impact his Eclipse support. Kentucky stewards have yet to hold a hearing.

China Horse Club and WinStar Farm's Life Is Good, a blowout winner of the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), will also likely garner votes after also twice defeating Medina Spirit in early 2021.

In addition to honoring the 17 winners in the horse and human categories, Justin Mustari will receive the Eclipse Award as the 2021 Horseplayer of the Year. Members of the media will be honored for outstanding coverage in six categories, with BloodHorse's Eric Mitchell among those recognized.

BLOODHORSE: Mitchell Among Media Eclipse Award Winners

Eclipse Awards voting is conducted by the NTWAB, the NTRA, and Daily Racing Form. The Eclipse Awards ceremony is produced by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Eclipse Awards ticket information is available at the NTRA website.

The Eclipse Awards are sponsored by Roberts Communications, Four Roses Bourbon, Daily Racing Form, Breeders' Cup, FanDuel Group, The Stronach Group, Santa Anita Park, TVG, Dean Dorton, Stonestreet Farm, Keeneland, Racetrack Television Network, Jackson Family Wines, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Hallway Feeds, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.