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Top Striker finalist for Eclipse Award

Rawnaq, Scorpiancer round out top 3

Posted: January 5, 2017 2:25 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Lindsay Jennings/C-I/

TOP STRIKER CARRIED Ross Geraghty to a convincing victory in last fall’s $150,000 Colonial Cup for owner Sue Sensor and trainer Arch Kingsley Jr., both Camden residents.

Thanks in large part to his 10 ½-length win in November’s $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (GR. I), Top Striker went from being one of the boys in to elevating his profile to where he is now mentioned with current group of top jumpers in American steeplechasing.

Thursday, Top Striker --- owned by Camden’s Sue Sensor and trained by Camden’s Arch Kingsley --- found himself among chasing’s elite as he joined Rawnaq and Scorpiancer as the three finalists for the 2016 Eclipse Award for Steeplechase Horse.

The winners in all divisions, both horse and human, will be announced at the 46th Annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Winner of the $75,000 Carolina Cup, for novice jumpers, in 2014, Top Striker’s 2016 campaign opened with a fourth-place finish in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) in Middleburg last April. Rawnaq won that chase with Scorpiancer finishing second. After closing the spring portion of the National Steeplechase Association season with a fourth and a pair of thirds over fences, Kingsley gave the 7-year-old Van Nistelrooy gelding a run on the flat at Laurel Park in July in which he came in seventh.

Traveling north to Saratoga, Top Striker was second by a nose to Dr. Skip in a $70,000 handicap hurdle race on Aug. 3. Four weeks later, in another $70,000 chase, Special Skills beat Top Striker to the finish line by two lengths. In both instances, Camden’s Bernie Dalton was in the irons.

Top Striker would score his fourth victory in 15 lifetime starts over fences by taking in the $75,000 Zeke Ferguson Memorial Stakes (Gr. 2) at Great Meadow on Oct. 22 with Paddy Young up. With nothing to lose and with the Colonial Cup being contested on his home course, Sensor and Kingsley decided to take a shot with Top Striker in the Camden fall classic.

With both of Top Striker’s riders from his 2016 jump races already having mounts for the Colonial Cup feature, Kingsley called on 2012 NSA champion jockey Ross Geraghty to get the nod in the saddle. Geraghty, who won the 2015 Colonial Cup with Dawalan, piloted Top Striker to an impressive 10 ½-length victory over a field which included Rawnaq, which came home a distant second.

Top Striker earned $174,700 from eight starts with two wins, two seconds and two thirds in 2016.

Rawnaq, the 2016 winner of the NSA’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the top-earner on the circuit, won each of his first three starts over jumps last year for NSA leading owner Irvin Naylor and trainer Cyril Murphy.

Opening the season with a win in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), the 9-year-old Azamour gelding captured the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Stakes (Gr. I) in Nashville last May before claiming American chasing’s richest race, the $350,000 Grand National (Gr. I) in Far Hills, N.J., in October. Rawnaq’s year ended with a second in the Colonial Cup feature behind Top Striker.

Rawnaq posted three wins from four starts over jumps in 2016 and earned an NSA-best $387,000.

Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer, trained by 2016 NSA champion conditioner Jack Fisher, collected one victory in 2016 with that win coming in the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. I) at Belmont Park. The 7-year-old Scorpion gelding had four seconds from seven starts last year with two of those chasing Rawnaq home in the Temple Gwathmey and the Grand National.

Scorpiancer met the starter’s flag seven times in 2016 with one win, four seconds and a third which earned his connections $217,600.

 

Trio vie for Horse of the Year honor: Led by Horse of the Year candidates Arrogate, California Chrome and Songbird, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) today announced the finalists for the 2016 Eclipse Awards, recognizing excellence in Thoroughbred racing. 

Of the 264 eligible voters representing the NTRA, the NTWAB and Daily Racing Form, 248 (93.94 percent) took part in this year’s vot

 

Of the 264 eligible voters representing the NTRA, the NTWAB and Daily Racing Form, 248 (93.94%) took part in this year’s 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 2016 Eclipse Awards finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

 

Horse of the Year: Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird

 

Two-Year-Old Male: Classic Empire, Not This Time, Practical Joke

 

Two-Year-Old Filly: Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey

 

Three-Year-Old Male: Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist

 

Three-Year-Old Filly: Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust (GB), Songbird

 

Older Dirt Male: California Chrome, Frosted, Lord Nelson

 

Older Dirt Female: Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind

 

Male Sprinter: A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson

 

Female Sprinter: Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining

 

Male Turf Horse: Flintshire (GB), Highland Reel (IRE), Tourist

 

Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin

 

Steeplechase Horse: Rawnaq (IRE), Scorpiancer (IRE), Top Striker

 

Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc., Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm LLC

 

Breeder: Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm, LLC

 

Trainer: Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse

 

Jockey: Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith

 

Apprentice Jockey: Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio

 

In addition to honoring the 17 winners in the horse and human categories, Andrew Beyer, journalist, author and creator of the Beyer Speed Figures, and Steven Crist, racing writer and publisher, will both receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of achievement in the Thoroughbred industry. Paul Matties will receive an Eclipse Award as the 2016 Horseplayer of the Year. Members of the media will be honored for outstanding coverage in six categories.

The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies. The Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements in North America have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. 

Those awards are voted by NTRA, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB). Eclipse Awards also are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.

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