Aiming for the Prestigious Eclipse Awards

Every year many breeders and owners hold onto the hope that their horse will walk away with one of the prestigious Eclipse Awards, such as the Horse of the Year Award. It is a ceremony that has been around since 1887, honoring the magnificent race winners of the racetracks for their tireless efforts and sacrifice. Horses are taken for granted so often that their achievements and performances are not noted, but since attention has been brought to this significant part of horse racing, horses have been honored and remembered with fondness and admiration.

The most exclusive honor a thoroughbred racehorse can receive is the Horse of the Year Eclipse Award. Horses have been honored for their performance throughout a specific year for ages, but official voting only started in the year 1936.

By 1950, the Daily Racing Forum and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America, both had their own individual Horse of the Year Awards, but inevitably their winning selections were always the same. Eventually, the two establishments agreed to join forces and establish one award, the Eclipse Award, together with the National Turf Writers Association, in 1971. Legendary horses that received this coveted title before the establishment of the prestigious Eclipse Awards, included Man O’War in 1920, War Admiral in 1937, Seabiscuit in 1938 and Nashua in 1955.

The Eclipse Award is dedicated to a British racehorse named Eclipse, that rocked the racing community in the eighteenth century. He had started his racing career quite late, at the age of five, but raked in eight walkovers and was not defeated in eighteen of his races. He would also go on to sire no less than three Epsom Derby winners and the rest of the horses sired by Eclipse, won 344 races combined.

Today, the three establishments associated with the Eclipse Awards have remained – the Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association, with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association replacing Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America. Together, these establishments vote for the winners in the various divisions. The divisions are: Horse of the Year, Outstanding 2-Year-Old Male Horse, Outstanding 2-Year Old Filly, Outstanding 3-Year-Old Male Horse, Outstanding 3-Year Old Filly, Outstanding Older Male Horse, Outstanding Older Female Horse, Outstanding Sprint Horse, Outstanding Male Turf Horse, Outstanding Female Turf Horse, Outstanding Steeplechase Horse, Outstanding Owner, Outstanding Breeder, Outstanding Jockey, Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, Outstanding Trainer and the Eclipse Special Award.

Many famous race horses will join the ranks of Horse of the Year in the future. They will deservingly earn a position in history, together with Ack Ack (1971), Secretariat (1972 and 1973), Affirmed (1978 and 1979), Lady’s Secret (1986) and other multiple winners such as Forego, Lonesome Glory and John Henry. To be associated with these majestic animals is a great privilege, and it is our duty to honor the service and unconditional loyalty they provide.