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Scorpiancer’s short season did not fail to impress Eclipse Award voters

Posted: January 29, 2018 4:06 p.m.
Updated: January 30, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Susie Raisher/

SCORPIANCER, SHOWN HERE with Sean McDermott up, received 92 first place votes to win the 2017 Eclipse Award for Steeplechase Horse.

Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer, the National Steeplechase Association’s only two-time graded stakes winner in 2017, was crowned the year’s Eclipse Award winner as champion steeplechase horse at last Thursday’s 47th Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Gun Runner, a winner of four Grade 1 races culminating with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, was voted the 2017 Horse of the Year at the 47th Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream Park 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).

Irish-bred Scorpiancer won his only two starts of the season, the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) by 16 lengths after his victory in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Trained by Jack Fisher, he prevailed in the Eclipse Award balloting in a highly competitive season in which five horses won the year’s five Grade 1 races.

Accepting the Eclipse trophy were the three friends who make up Bruton Street-US: Mike Hankin, Charlie Fenwick, and Charlie Noell. Accompanying them were Fisher and the two jockeys who have ridden Scorpiancer in his American career, Connor Hankin and Sean McDermott, who was aboard for the two 2017 wins.

“He’s a really good horse. And we’ve been really really lucky to be part of a fun team watching this horse come over from England and run so well here,” Mike Hankin said in accepting the Eclipse for Bruton Street-US.

“It’s a privilege to be here with all of you. Steeplechase racing has long been thought of as a great afterlife for flat horses. It’s gotten pretty exciting. The last year, the biggest purse of the year was $400,000 and is going up to $500,000 in two years. We’re big on our sport, and we appreciate being recognized as part of Thoroughbred flat racing tonight.”

Scorpiancer, who did not race after his Iroquois victory in Nashville on May 13, topped the NSA’s Theoretical Handicap at 158 pounds.

Other finalists for the Eclipse were Gillian Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, winner of the $400,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 21, and Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, who won Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 21. They were rated at 148 pounds in the Theoretical Handicap.

Scorpiancer led the Eclipse balloting with 92 votes, followed by All the Way Jose at 70 and Mr. Hot Stuff at 35. Also receiving votes were Robert Kinsley’s Modem (7), Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat, trained in Camden by Kate Dalton (4), and Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile (3).

Fisher also trained Mr. Hot Stuff, and All the Way Jose was trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard.

Gun Runner a runaway winner for Horse of the Year: Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner received 248 out of a possible 250 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, who was last year’s champion 3-year-old, received two first place votes.

Gun Runner, who was also named the Champion Older Dirt Male earlier in the evening, won five of six starts during his 4-year-old season, including dominant victories in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June, the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga in August, and then finished the year with a front-running 2 1/4-length victory in the Classic at Del Mar. Gun Runner’s only defeat last year came in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, when he finished second to Arrogate. Gun Runner later turned the tables on Arrogate, who dead-heated for fifth in the Classic. Gun Runner, ridden in all of his races last year by Florent Geroux, finished the year with earnings of $6,950,700.

Two nights after the Eclipse Award ceremony, Gun Runner made his final start a successful one by winning the $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream which added another $7 million to his earnings tally.

A chestnut son of Candy Ride (ARG) out of Quiet Giant by Giant’s Causeway, Gun Runner was bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables. Gun Runner will be retired to stud duty at Three Chimneys Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

With the crowning of Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen becomes the first trainer since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 to train the Horse of the Year winner on four occasions. In addition to Gun Runner, Asmussen, a member of Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame, trained Curlin to Horse of the Year titles in 2007 and 2008 and the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

In other awards, two horses from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert captured the 3-year-old male and 3-year-old filly titles. Gary and Mary West’s West Coast, winner of the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby was named champion 3-year-old male, and China Horse Club’s Abel Tasman, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and the Coaching Club American Oaks, was named champion 3-year-old filly.

The champion 2-year-old male title went to Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, who is trained by Chad Brown, who was also named outstanding trainer for the second consecutive year.

Juddmonte Farms, which campaigned Arrogate to victories in the both the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups, was named Champion owner, and Clearksy Farms, breeders of Arrogate and Abel Tasman, was named the Outstanding Breeder. Jose Ortiz, who led all riders with more than $27 million in earnings, was named champion jockey.

The complete list of 2017 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below:

(Horse ages in parentheses where applicable; Country codes indicate a foreign breeding designation)

• Two-Year-Old Male: Good Magic

• Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia Road

• Three-Year-Old Male: West Coast

• Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman

• Older Dirt Male: Gun Runner (4)

• Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled (5)

• Male Sprinter: Roy H (5)

• Female Sprinter: Unique Bella (3)

• Male Turf Horse: World Approval (5)

• Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli (5)

• Steeplechase Horse: Scorpiancer (IRE) (8)

• Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.

• Breeder: Clearsky Farms

• Jockey: Jose Ortiz

• Apprentice Jockey: Evin Roman

• Trainer: Chad Brown

• Horse of the Year: Gun Runner (4) 


Two-Year-Old Male (Name, First-Place Votes)

Good Magic, 131; Bolt d’Oro, 113; Catholic Boy, 3; Firenze Fire, 1; Mendelssohn, 1; Solomini, 1. 

Two-Year-Old Filly

Caledonia, Road, 161; Rushing Fall, 68; Moonshine Memories, 17; Dream Tree, 2; Dream It Is, 1; Road to Victory, 1. 

Three-Year-Old Male

West Coast, 229; Always Dreaming, 14; Battle of Midway, 5; Irap, 1; Mastery, 1.

Three-Year-Old Filly

Abel Tasman, 244; Unique Bella, 5; Elate, 1.

Older Dirt Male

Gun Runner, 247; Arrogate, 3.

Older Dirt Female

Forever Unbridled, 237; Songbird, 8; Stellar Wind, 4; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Male Sprinter

Roy H, 241; Imperial Hint, 5; Drefong, 1; Mind Your Biscuits, 1; Stormy Liberal, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Female Sprinter

Unique Bella, 90, Paulassilverlining, 60; Ami’s Mesa, 41; Bar of Gold, 36; Lady Aurelia, 8; By the Moon, 5; American Gal, 3; Finley’sluckycharm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Male Turf Horse

World Approval, 211; Beach Patrol 20; Talismanic (GB), 11; Highland Reel (IRE), 8.

Female Turf Horse

Lady Eli, 203; Wuheida (GB), 33; Off Limits, 12; Cambodia, 1; La Coronel, 1.

Steeplechase Horse

Scorpiancer (IRE), 92; All the Way Jose, 70; Mr. Hot Stuff, 35; Modem (GB), 7; Diplomat, 4; Swansea Mile (IRE), 3; Voter Abstentions, 39.


Juddmonte Farms, 143; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 31; Godolphin Racing, 21; Sol Kumin, Head of Plains, Sheep Pond Partners, 19; Klaravich Stables, Inc., and William H. Lawrence, 11; Calumet Farm, 7; End Zone Athletics, 3; Charles Fipke, 2; Coolmore, 1; e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, 1; Fox Hill Farm, 1; Live Oak Plantation, 1; John Oxley, 1; Stonestreet Stables, 1; Voter Abstentions, 7.


Clearsky Farms, 141; WinStar Farm, 72; Charles Fipke, 8; Belisu Stables, 7; Live Oak Stud, 6; Godolphin Racing/Darley, 4; Brereton C. Jones, 3; Adena Springs, 1; Calumet Farm, 1; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.


Chad Brown, 215; Bob Baffert, 16; Steve Asmussen, 13; Mark Casse, 2; Todd Pletcher, 2; Voter Abstentions, 2.


Jose Ortiz, 189; Mike Smith, 45; Irad Ortiz, Jr.,10; Javier Castellano, 4; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Apprentice Jockey

Evin Roman, 232; Katie Clawson, 4; Jenn Miller, 1. Voter Abstentions, 13.

Horse of the Year

Gun Runner, 248; Arrogate, 2 



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