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    Joe Withee on the Eclipse Awards

    Eclipse Awards...What is the Debate About?

    Eclipse Award winners for 2011 will be announced Monday evening, January 16 in Los Angeles. There aren’t as many clear-cut winners going in as in most years, making for a more interesting evening and excitement among the winners. Votes from the NTRA, DRF and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters determine the winners.

    Breeders’ Cup championship day, as it should, goes a long way in deciding the outcomes of divisional championships. My Miss Aurelia, Royal Delta, Hansen, Amazombie and even Musical Romance all put themselves in highly prominent positions after winning ‘Cup races. Of those winners, Hansen’s category of Top Two-Year Old Male is getting the most ink in discussion of who’s the champ.

    What? Two-Year Old Male is easy. Hansen won it, earned it, deserves it. If he doesn’t win, it’s a travesty. His main competition is Union Rags, the heavy B.C. Juvenile favorite runner-up. Hansen has it all over Union Rags. Hansen’s undefeated, Breeders’ Cup champ, more money earned and beat his top foe with the title on the line. Union Rags is/did none of those things.

    The 2011 Eclipse Awards are for achievement in 2011. Not for who might be the Kentucky Derby winter book favorite, who might be better next year, who would command more at stud, etc. Union Rags raced wide in his loss to Hansen? Yes he did but he also had an eighth of a mile or more to run down and Hansen and wasn’t able to. Was Union Rags a good juvenile? He was tremendous and has a bright future. But, Hansen won the title for 2011 and looking back 50 years from now, the facts will be the same.

    Another way to look at things is how would voters explain to the runner-up’s camp, why their horse didn’t win? If Union Rags would win, what do you say to Hansen’s connections? With excuses - "well, Union Rags woulda-coulda-shoulda won the Juvenile if he didn’t race wide". Or, "Union Rags is a better horse." Really? If Hansen wins, it’s an easy explanation to the ‘Rags camp - Hansen won head-to-head on championship day, is undefeated and earned more money.

    Votes for anybody but Hansen are incorrect. There’s only one choice for Top Two-Year Old Male of 2011.

    - Joe Withee, Director of Broadcast Media

    2011 Finalist List

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