American Horse of the Year

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The American Award for Horse of the Year, one of the Eclipse Awards, is the highest honor given in American thoroughbred horse racing. Because Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States has no governing body to sanction the various awards, "Horse of the Year" is not an official national award.

Horse of the Year
CountryUnited States
WebsiteEclipse Award

The Champion award is a designation given to a horse, irrespective of age, whose performance during the racing year was deemed the most outstanding. The list below is a Champion's history compilation beginning with the year 1887 published by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's The Blood-Horse magazine (founded 1961), described by ESPN as "the Thoroughbred industry's most-respected trade publication".

In 1936 a Horse of the Year award was created by a poll of the staff of The New York Morning Telegraph and its sister newspaper, the Daily Racing Form (DRF), a tabloid founded in 1894 that was focused on statistical information for bettors. At the same time a rival poll was organised by the Baltimore-based Turf and Sport Digest magazine. Formed in 1942 as an advocacy group, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) inaugurated a competing award in 1950, selecting its winners from votes by racing secretaries from member tracks across the United States. The three systems resulted in different opinions as to "Horse of the Year" Champions in 1949, 1952, 1957, 1965, and 1970. In 1971, the DRF and TRA made an agreement with the National Turf Writers Association to merge into one set of awards, called the Eclipse Awards.

Historical notes on winners

In a rare occurrence, two two-year-olds topped the balloting for 1972 American Horse of the Year honors with Secretariat edging out the filly, La Prevoyante. Secretariat received the votes of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and the Daily Racing Form, while La Prevoyante was chosen by the National Turf Writers Association.[1]

Kelso, who placed 4th in The Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, won "Horse of the Year" honors five consecutive years. Omaha is the only winner of the U.S. Triple Crown that was not voted "Horse of the Year" honors.

Records

Most wins:

  • 5 – Kelso (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)

Most wins by a trainer:

Most wins by an owner:

Honorees

Key
Elected to the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Eclipse Awards

The 2003 Eclipse Awards marked a significant change in the way that honors were decided.

Under this format, voting is conducted by selected members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (formerly National Turf Writers Association). The winner of the Eclipse Award for American Horse of the Year is the horse who has received the most first-place votes.

Year Horse Trainer Owner Age Sex Votes (Share) Runner-Up Votes (Share) Ref
2023 Cody's Wish William I. Mott Godolphin 5 Horse 134/219 (61.19%) White Abarrio 37/219 (16.89%)
2022 Flightline John Sadler Hronis Racing 4 Colt 239/246 (97.15%) Malathaat, Life Is Good, Country Grammer 1/246 (0.41%)
2021 Knicks Go Brad Cox Korea Racing Authority 5 Horse 228/235 (97.02%) Letruska, Loves Only You 2/235 (0.85%)
2020 Authentic Bob Baffert Spendthrift Farm, MyRaceHorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing 3 Colt 224/238 (94.12%) Monomoy Girl 7/238 (2.94%)
2019 Bricks and Mortar Chad C. Brown Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence 5 Horse 204/241 (84.65%) Mitole 19/241 (7.88%)
2018 Justify Bob Baffert China H. C., Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm 3 Colt 191/249 (76.71%) Accelerate 54/249 (21.69%)
2017 Gun Runner Steve Asmussen Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC & Three Chimneys Farm 4 Colt 248/250 (99.2%) Arrogate 2/250 (0.8%)
2016 California Chrome Art Sherman California Chrome LLC 5 Horse 202/248 (81.45%) Arrogate 40/248 (16.13%)
2015 American Pharoah Bob Baffert Ahmed Zayat 3 Colt 261/261 (100.0%) N/A N/A
2014 California Chrome Art Sherman Steven Coburn, Perry Martin 3 Colt 143/265 (53.96%) Main Sequence 53/265 (20.00%)
2013 Wise Dan Charles LoPresti Morton Fink 6 Gelding 208/249 (83.53%) Mucho Macho Man 21/249 (8.43%)
2012 Wise Dan Charles LoPresti Morton Fink 5 Gelding 194/254 (76.38%) I'll Have Another 30/254 (11.81%)
2011 Havre de Grace J. Larry Jones Fox Hill Farms 4 Filly 166/248 (66.94%) Acclamation 26/248 (10.48%)
2010 Zenyatta John Shirreffs Jerry & Ann Moss 6 Mare 128/238 (53.78%) Blame 102/238 (42.86%)
2009 Rachel Alexandra Steve Asmussen Stonestreet Stables 3 Filly 130/229 (56.77%) Zenyatta 99/229 (43.23%)
2008 Curlin Steve Asmussen Stonestreet Farm et al. 4 Colt 153/242 (63.22%) Zenyatta 69/242 (28.51%)
2007 Curlin Steve Asmussen Stonestreet Farm et al. 3 Colt 249/263 (94.68%) Rags to Riches 12/263 (4.56%)
2006 Invasor Kiaran McLaughlin Shadwell Racing 4 Colt 228/271 (84.13%) Barbaro 21/271 (7.75%)
2005 Saint Liam Richard E. Dutrow Jr. M/M William K. Warren Jr. 5 Horse 194/253 (76.68%) Afleet Alex 56/253 (22.13%)
2004 Ghostzapper Robert J. Frankel Frank Stronach 4 Colt 174/271 (64.21%) Smarty Jones 95/271 (35.06%)
2003 Mineshaft Neil J. Howard Farish / Webber / Elkins 4 Colt 209/248 (84.27%) Congaree 11/248 (4.44%)

The 2002 Eclipse Awards were the last conducted under a voting bloc system, in which each of the three voting groups could only cast a single collective vote based on the polling of that group's members. In the event of an overall split vote, the award would go to the horse who had received the most points - each group's vote awarded ten points for first place, five points for second place, and one point for third place. In the event that there was a tie on points, the award would go to the horse who had received the most individual first-place votes.

Year
Horse
Trainer
Owner
Age Sex
2002 Azeri Laura de Seroux Michael Paulson 4 F
2001 Point Given Bob Baffert The Thoroughbred Corp. 3 C
2000 Tiznow Jay M. Robbins M. Cooper & Cecilia Straub-Rubens 3 C
1999 Charismatic D. Wayne Lukas Bob and Beverly Lewis 3 C
1998 Skip Away Sonny Hine Carolyn Hine 5 H
1997 Favorite Trick Patrick B. Byrne Joseph LaCombe 2 C
1996 Cigar William I. Mott Allen E. Paulson 6 H
1995 Cigar William I. Mott Allen E. Paulson 5 H
1994 Holy Bull Warren A. Croll Jr. Warren A. Croll Jr. 3 C
1993 Kotashaan Richard Mandella La Presle Farm 5 H
1992 A.P. Indy Neil D. Drysdale Tomonori Tsurumaki 3 C
1991 Black Tie Affair Ernie T. Poulos Jeffrey Sullivan 5 H
1990 Criminal Type D. Wayne Lukas Calumet & Jurgen K. Arnemann 5 H
1989 Sunday Silence Charlie Whittingham H-G-W Partners 3 C
1988 Alysheba Jack Van Berg Dorothy & Pamela Scharbauer 4 C
1987 Ferdinand Charlie Whittingham Elizabeth A. Keck 4 C
1986 Lady's Secret D. Wayne Lukas Eugene V. Klein 4 F
1985 Spend A Buck Cam Gambolati Hunter Farm 3 C
1984 John Henry Ron McAnally Dotsam Stable 9 G
1983 All Along Patrick Biancone Daniel Wildenstein 4 F
1982 Conquistador Cielo Woody Stephens Henryk de Kwiatkowski 3 C
1981 John Henry Ron McAnally Dotsam Stable 6 G
1980 Spectacular Bid Bud Delp Hawksworth Farm 4 C
1979 Affirmed Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 4 C
1978 Affirmed Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 3 C
1977 Seattle Slew William H. Turner Jr. Karen & Mickey Taylor 3 C
1976 Forego Frank Y. Whiteley Jr. Lazy F. Ranch 6 G
1975 Forego Sherrill W. Ward Lazy F. Ranch 5 G
1974 Forego Sherrill W. Ward Lazy F. Ranch 4 G
1973 Secretariat Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable 3 C
1972 Secretariat Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable 2 C
1971 Ack Ack Charlie Whittingham Buddy Fogelson 5 H

Daily Racing Form, Turf & Sport Digest and Thoroughbred Racing Association Awards

Year
Horse
Trainer
Owner
Age Gender
1970 Fort Marcy (DRF) J. Elliott Burch Rokeby Stables 6 G
1970 Personality (TRA) John W. Jacobs Ethel D. Jacobs 3 C
1969 Arts and Letters J. Elliott Burch Rokeby Stables 3 C
1968 Dr. Fager John A. Nerud Tartan Stable 4 C
1967 Damascus Frank Y. Whiteley Jr. Edith W. Bancroft 3 C
1966 Buckpasser Edward A. Neloy Ogden Phipps 3 C
1965 Roman Brother (DRF) Burley Parke Harbor View Farm 4 G
1965 Moccasin (TRA) (TSD) Harry Trotsek Claiborne Farm 2 F
1964 Kelso Carl Hanford Bohemia Stable 7 G
1963 Kelso Carl Hanford Bohemia Stable 6 G
1962 Kelso Carl Hanford Bohemia Stable 5 G
1961 Kelso Carl Hanford Bohemia Stable 4 G
1960 Kelso Carl Hanford Bohemia Stable 3 G
1959 Sword Dancer J. Elliott Burch Brookmeade Stable 3 C
1958 Round Table William Molter Kerr Stable 4 C
1957 Dedicate (TRA) G. Carey Winfrey Jan Winfrey Burke 5 H
1957 Bold Ruler (DRF) (TSD) Jim Fitzsimmons Wheatley Stable 3 C
1956 Swaps Mesh Tenney Rex C. Ellsworth 4 C
1955 Nashua Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud 3 C
1954 Native Dancer William C. Winfrey Alfred G. Vanderbilt II 4 C
1953 Tom Fool John M. Gaver Sr. Greentree Stable 4 C
1952 Native Dancer (TRA) (TSD) William C. Winfrey Alfred G. Vanderbilt II 2 C
1952 One Count (DRF) Oscar White Sarah Jeffords 3 C
1951 Counterpoint Sylvester Veitch C. V. Whitney 3 C
1950 Hill Prince Casey Hayes Christopher Chenery 3 C

Daily Racing Form and Turf & Sport Digest Awards

Year
Horse
Trainer
Owner
Age Gender
1949 Capot (DRF) John M. Gaver Sr. Greentree Stable 3 C
1949 Coaltown (TSD) Horace A. Jones Calumet Farm 4 C
1948 Citation Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 3 C
1947 Armed Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 6 G
1946 Assault Max Hirsch King Ranch 3 C
1945 Busher George M. Odom Louis B. Mayer 3 F
1944 Twilight Tear Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 3 F
1943 Count Fleet Don Cameron Fannie Hertz 3 C
1942 Whirlaway Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 4 C
1941 Whirlaway Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm 3 C
1940 Challedon Louis J. Schaefer Branncastle Farm 4 C
1939 Challedon Louis J. Schaefer Branncastle Farm 3 C
1938 Seabiscuit Tom Smith Charles S. Howard 5 H
1937 War Admiral George Conway Glen Riddle Farm 3 C
1936 Granville Jim Fitzsimmons William Woodward Sr. 3 C

The Blood-Horse retrospective champions

Year
Horse
Trainer
Owner
Age Gender
1935 Discovery Joseph H. Stotler Alfred G. Vanderbilt II 4 C
1934 Cavalcade Robert A. Smith Brookmeade Stable 3 C
1933 Equipoise Thomas J. Healey Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney 5 H
1932 Equipoise Thomas J. Healey Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney 4 C
1931 Twenty Grand James G. Rowe Jr. Greentree Stable 3 C
1930 Gallant Fox Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud 3 C
1929 Blue Larkspur Herbert J. Thompson Edward R. Bradley 3 C
1928 Reigh Count Bert S. Michell Fannie Hertz 3 C
1927 Chance Play John I. Smith Log Cabin Stable 4 C
1926 Crusader George Conway Glen Riddle Farm 3 C
1925 Sarazen Max Hirsch Virginia Fair Vanderbilt 4 G
1924 Sarazen Max Hirsch Virginia Fair Vanderbilt 3 G
1923 Zev David J. Leary Rancocas Stable 3 C
1922 Exterminator Henry McDaniel Willis Sharpe Kilmer 7 G
1921 Grey Lag Sam Hildreth Rancocas Stable 3 C
1920 Man o' War Louis Feustel Samuel D. Riddle 3 C
1919 Sir Barton H. Guy Bedwell J. K. L. Ross 3 C
1918 Johren Albert Simons Harry P. Whitney 3 C
1917 Old Rosebud Frank D. Weir Weir & Hamilton Applegate 6 G
1916 Friar Rock Sam Hildreth August Belmont Jr. 3 C
1915 Regret James G. Rowe Sr. Harry P. Whitney 3 F
1914 Roamer A. J. Goldsborough Andrew Miller 3 G
1913 Whisk Broom II James G. Rowe Sr. Harry P. Whitney 6 H
1912 The Manager Thomas C. McDowell Thomas C. McDowell 3 C
1911 Meridian Albert Ewing Richard F. Carman 3 C
1910 Fitz Herbert Sam Hildreth Charles Kohler 4 C
1909 Fitz Herbert Sam Hildreth Sam Hildreth 3 C
1908 Colin James G. Rowe Sr. James R. Keene 3 C
1907 Colin James G. Rowe Sr. James R. Keene 2 C
1906 Burgomaster John W. Rogers Harry P. Whitney 3 C
1905 Sysonby James G. Rowe Sr. James R. Keene 3 C
1904 Beldame John J. Hyland August Belmont Jr. 3 F
1903 Hermis John H. McCormack Henry M. Ziegler 4 C
1902 Hermis John H. McCormack Henry M. Ziegler 3 C
1901 Commando James G. Rowe Sr. James R. Keene 3 C
1900 Commando James G. Rowe Sr. James R. Keene 2 C
1899 Imp Charles E. Brossman Daniel R. Harness 5 M
1898 Hamburg William Lakeland Marcus Daly 3 C
1897 Ornament Charles E. Patterson Charles E. Patterson 3 C
1896 Requital James G. Rowe Sr. Brookdale Farm Stable 3 C
1895 Henry of Navarre John J. Hyland August Belmont Jr. 4 C
1894 Henry of Navarre Byron McClelland Byron McClelland 3 C
1893 Domino William Lakeland James & Foxhall Keene 2 C
1892 Tammany Matthew Byrnes Marcus Daly 3 C
1891 Longstreet Hardy Campbell Jr. Michael F. Dwyer 5 H
1890 Salvator Matthew Byrnes James Ben Ali Haggin 4 C
1889 Salvator Matthew Byrnes James Ben Ali Haggin 3 C
1888 Emperor of Norfolk Robert W. Thomas E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin 3 C
1887 Hanover Frank McCabe Dwyer Brothers Stable 3 C

See also

References