Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
By John Piesen
What with mother nature playing havoc with northeast racing, and Gulfstream and Calder continuing to act like spoiled brats in south Florida, a racing guy’s only place to turn to on the first weekend of the new year is to the annual selection of the Eclipse Awards.
The year 2013 produced the usual assortment of pision standouts and close races. So here is one man’s opinion, and, unlike so many Eclipse voters, I know what I’m talking about.
With that in mind, here goes...
1. SHARED BELIEF
Went 4-for-4 in California, capped by the Cash Call Futurity by seven lengths, making him the Derby Future Book favorite. But since many (most!) Eclipse ballots were cast before the CashCall, SB, who is co-owned by TV sports talk show host Jim Rome, won’t get the nod. The colt will run twice more up to the Derby -- in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby.
2. HONOR CODE
Had his first Florida work for the Shugster, and, like Shared Belief, will run twice up to the Derby -- in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. I miss the good old days when Derby prospects raced five, six or even 10 times up to the Derby.
3. NEW YEAR’S DAY
The Breeders’ Cup winner last week was injured in training and retired. We’ll never know?
1. SHE’S A TIGER
Was a day and a half the best when DQd in the BC Juvenile Fillies. Both juvie champs are based in northern California. Pedigree suggests "Tiger’ has distance limitations.
2. RIA ANTONIO
3. SWEET REASON
1. WILL TAKE CHARGE
Took charge of the pision with Travers and Pa. Derby victories and a narrow loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Only 3-year-old male with two Grade 1 victories -- Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby - but faltered later and sent to breeding shed.
3. PALACE MALICE
Peaked in Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy; second in Gold Cup. Should hit the board.
Need look no further than the BC Distaff.
2. PRINCESS OF SYLMAR
Should have stayed in Schenectady.
3. CLOSE HATCHES
Several notches behind top two.
1. MUCHO MACHO MAN
Trainer Kathy Ritvo deserves a special Eclipse. She made made the right choice by keeping MMM in training.
2. GAME ON DUDE
3. WISE DAN
1. ROYAL DELTA
This caps a three-peat for classic mare.
2. JOYFUL VICTORY
3. TIZ MIZ SUE
1. SECRET CIRCLE
Made a heroic comeback to win BC Sprint. Now it’s off to Dubai.
Led the pision, and was projected as BC Sprint favorite before his tragic breakdown.
3. SAHARA SKY
As good a closing sprinter as we’ve seen in years.
BC repeater wins a photo...
2. GROUPIE DOLL
...over another BC repeater.
Super New York-bred.
1. WISE DAN
The best mile turfer since Lure and Fourstardave.
2. POINT OF ENTRY
1. PINE FORTUNE
2. MR. HOT STUFF
3. ITALIAN WEDDING
DO YOU HAVE GULFSTREAM STRATEGY?
1. KEN AND SARAH RAMSEY
1. KEN AND SARAH RAMSEY
1. DAVID JACOBSON
For setting New York mark.
1. GARY STEVENS
Also comeback athlete of the year.
1. MIKE McCARTHY
Like father, like son.
HORSE OF THE YEAR
The best horse on the planet the second half of the year, and trainer Lukas is saying he’ll run as a 4-year-old. Too bad that Wise Dan again wasn’t given the chance to face the big boys in the BC Classic.
P.S. Weather permitting, the New York Road to the Triple Crown will kick off Saturday at Aqueduct with the 200K Jerome at a mile and 70 yards.
Times do change. For nearly a century the Jerome was run at Belmont Park in September at a flat mile. Noble Moon will go favored off his rough-trip third in his 2-year-old finale in the Nashua.
For my selection in the Jerome, and other Saturday races, you need look no further than my picks online at www.nationalracemasters.com and/or the John Piesen Hot Line at 1-888-777-4155.
Thanks for tuning in. Watch your step with the weather, and see you back here next Friday!