Rapid Redux won't be getting a divisional award but he will be awarded with a special Eclipse.
Over the past few days, I've slowly been putting together my fake Eclipse ballot. While I don't actually get to vote on the industry awards, every year I like to pick my own winners. This year is no different.
The finalists were announced yesterday and fit right into line with my own picks, which is no surprise considering how each division played out this year.
Without further ado, here is my final ballot for the 2011 Eclipse awards.
Two-Year-Old Female: My Miss Aurelia
Choosing between Stephanie's Kitten and My Miss Aurelia did give me pause for a second, but My Miss Aurelia won due to her overall superior record.
In four races time, she racked up two G1 and one G2 wins, including a dominate three-length win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her undefeated season, including three graded stakes wins, sealed the deal for me.
Two-Year-Old Male: Union Rags
This division really has two standouts, Union Rags and Hansen. The colts were nose to nose in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (with third finalist Creative Cause one length back in third).
Although Hansen won the BC match up, Union Rags has a very impressive record for such a young horse, with a win in the G2 Three Chimneys Saratoga Special and the G1 Champagne Stakes. He went three-for-four this year, with two coming in the stakes listed above. Hansen's only graded stakes win was in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Three-Year-Old Female: Royal Delta
Royal Delta had an outstanding year that saw her win five of her eight races. She only missed the board once, in the Suncoast Stakes with a ninth-place finish.
The filly blew the other females away in the G1 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, winning by 2 1/2 lengths and helping Bill Mott grab the Classic double.
Like my winner in the Three-Year-Old Male division, Royal Delta has two G1 wins on the year. She finished second in the G1 Beldame 8 1/4 lengths behind Havre de Grace, but finished 5 3/4 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.
Three-Year-Old Male: Caleb's Posse
Caleb's Posse didn't win any of the Classic three-year-old races, but he did win five of his 10 starts for the year, including the G1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
The colt also won the G3 Ohio Derby at 1 1/16 miles and the G1 King's Bishop at seven furlongs over Uncle Mo. In addition to these wins, he also won the G2 Amsterdam, finished second in the G2 Rebel and third in the G2 Indian Derby.
He is the only finalist in the Three-Year-Old Male category to have two G1 wins and he pulled them off at two different distances.
Older Female: Havre de Grace
There's really no big dispute in this one. Havre De Grace won five races this year, one being the G1 Woodward Stakes against the males.
She also put in a respectable fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Her final record stands at 7-5-1-0 for the year. Her second came in possibly the most exciting race of the year, the G2 Delaware Handicap. She ran eye-to-eye down the stretch with last year's Kentucky Oaks winner, Blind Luck, before losing by a nose.
Older Male: Acclamation
Acclamation won five of his seven starts, including three G1s in a row. All five wins were in races no lower than G2s.
The horse won on turf and synthetic. His main dig may be that he took 10th on the dirt in April. But no one has his record for the year (7-5-0-0). The closest contender, Wise Dan, has four wins in eight starts, with only two of them coming in graded stakes.
Turf Female: Dubawi Heights
Dubawi Heights wins my vote based solely on her number of graded stakes wins and her placing in the BC Filly & Mare Turf.
The mare won two G1s and one G3 while her other competitor, Stacelita, only won two graded stakes in America (however, they were G1s and she placed third against males in the G1 United Nations).
What came down to the final mark for me was how the mares placed in the Breeders' Cup. Dubawi Heights placed sixth while Stacelita placed 10th.
Turf Male: Acclamation
Acclamation had five graded stakes wins in 2011 with four of those being on turf.
He dominated the California circuit, winning two G1s on the grass and two G2s. He did skip the Breeders' Cup (as did other finalist Cape Blanco), but his dominance makes that a moot point in this case.
Granted, Cape Blanco did win three G1s on this side of the pond, but I feel the two G2s could realistically equal one G1 if push came to shove.
Female Sprinter: Hilda's Passion
The G1 Ballerina Stakes winner skipped the Breeders' Cup, but has four graded stakes wins under her belt for the year with one G1, two G2s and one G3 win on the year.
In addition, Hilda's Passion was second in a G3 and G1. Her final record for the season was 7-4-2-0 with a full stakes schedule on her resume for 2011.
Male Sprinter: Regally Ready
Regally Ready had wins in four graded stakes this year, with thirds in two others. He has a record of 9-6-0-2, with all but one win (and races) coming in stakes. There's really not that much to say about this gelding because he had such a good, consistent year.
Horse of the Year: Havre de Grace
Havre de Grace ran away with her division and is the only real standout in this class. Her win against the boys and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic make her the perfect winner for this award. She will be the third female in a row to win if she is voted in.