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Rawnaq wins Eclipse Award

Sensor-owned Top Striker garners 31 first-place votes

Posted: January 23, 2017 3:00 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

RAWNAQ GAVE OWNER Irvin Naylor his second consecutive Eclipse Award winner for Steeplechase Horse. Shown here with Sean McDermott up, Rawnaq was second behind Top Striker in last November’s $150,000 Colonial Cup in Camden.

rv Naylor’s Rawnaq, whose try for a perfect 2016 National Steeplechase Association season came to an end in the $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in Camden, was honored Saturday with the Eclipse Award as the year’s outstanding steeplechase horse.

Rawnaq earned 171 first-place votes. Colonial Cup winner Top Striker, owned by Camden’s Sue Sensor and trained by Camden’s Arch Kingsley Jr., received the second-highest number of first-place votes with 31.

The award was presented at the Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Also receiving an Eclipse Award for the year’s outstanding photograph was Tod Marks, the National Steeplechase Association’s official photographer.

Rawnaq, an Irish-bred trained by Cyril Murphy, began the year with a dominant victory in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring. He then turned back formidable overseas competitors to win the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 14.

He returned to competition for the year’s richest race, the $350,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., in October. Again facing competition from overseas invaders, Rawnaq dispatched an all-star field and won by a half-length. He concluded the year with a second in the season-ending $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup behind Top Striker, who went on to a 10 ½-length victory with Ross Geraghty in the saddle.

His three wins from four starts produced earnings of $387,000. He previously received the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner.

Top Striker earned $174,700 from eight starts with two wins, two seconds and two thirds in 2016. He won both his final two starts over fences including a score in the $75,000 Zeke Ferguson Stakes in October.

It was the second Eclipse Award in a row for Naylor and Murphy. In 2015, owner Naylor’s Dawalan claimed the sport’s most coveted prize. Naylor also won the 2011 Eclipse Award with Black Jack Blues.

Diane Naylor, the owner’s wife, accepted the award with Murphy and his family at her side.

California Chrome wins Horse of the Year: California Chrome, winner of the Dubai World Cup and the TVG Pacific Classic, and North America’s all-time leading money earning Thoroughbred, was voted as Horse of the Year, an honor which he also won in 2014, at the 46th Annual Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, presented by The Stronach Group, Daily Racing Form and the Breeders’ Cup, are voted on by the NTRA, Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters (NTWAB).

California Chrome becomes the first two-time Horse of the Year to win the honor in non-consecutive years since John Henry achieved it in 1981 and 1984. Owned by California Chrome LLC of Perry Martin and Taylor Made Farm, and trained by Art Sherman, California Chrome received 202 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Juddmonte Farms’ 3-year-old Arrogate, who was named Outstanding 3-year-old Male, finished second with 40 votes; Fox Hill Farms’ 3-year-old filly Songbird finished third with five votes and Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Highland Reel (IRE), received one vote. Songbird was voted the unanimous winner of the 3-Year-Old Filly Eclipse Award earlier this evening.

California Chrome, who was also named the unanimous winner of the Older Dirt Male award, won 7 of 8 starts in 2016, including dominant victories in the $10 million Dubai World Cup and the TVG Pacific Classic, and propelled him to become the all-time leading North American money earner with $14,502,650.

Arrogate was spectacular in securing the 3-year-old title under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. A son of former 2-year-old champion Unbridled’s Song, Arrogate won the Travers Stakes by 13 ½ lengths, in 1:59.36, the fastest time in the 147-year history of the race. Eight weeks later he wore down California Chrome to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Arrogate is the seventh Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old trained by Baffert.

Songbird, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, won seven of eight starts last year on her way to Champion 3-Year-Old Filly title. Among her wins were grade one victories in the Santa Anita Oaks, the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Cotillion Stakes. She lost the only race of her career when defeated a nose to the champion Older Dirt Female winner Beholder in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

The complete list of 2016 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below with the age of the horse and where it was foaled in ():


Two-Year-Old Male: Classic Empire

Two-Year-Old Filly:  Champagne Room

Three-Year-Old Male:  Arrogate

Three-Year-Old Filly:  Songbird

Older Dirt Male:  California Chrome (5)

Older Dirt Female: Beholder (6)

Male Sprinter:  Drefong (3)

Female Sprinter: Finest City (4)

Male Turf Horse: Flintshire (GB) (6)

Female Turf Horse: Tepin (5)

Steeplechase Horse: Rawnaq (IRE) (9)

Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.

Breeder: WinStar Farm LLC

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Apprentice Jockey: Luis Ocasio

Trainer: Chad Brown


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