Ricoh Woodbine Mile champion World Approval named Eclipse Award winner

January 26, 2018

HALLANDALE BEACH, Florida, January 26, 2018 – Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval, the 2017 Ricoh Woodbine Mile winner trained by Mark Casse, was named Champion Male Turf Horse at the 47th Annual Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida on Thursday evening while Gun Runner took home Horse of the Year honours.

The Eclipse Awards, honouring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, presented by The Stronach Group, Daily Racing Form and the Breeders’ Cup, are voted on by the NTRA, Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB).

Owned and bred in Ocala, Florida by Live Oak’s Charlotte Weber, World Approval closed out a $2 million season in 2017 with three consecutive victories in Grade 1 stakes, including the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile at Woodbine and Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar — the latter two with jockey John Velazquez aboard.  World Approval also earned back-to-back stakes wins in the EG Vodka Turf Classic at Tampa Bay and Grade 2 Longines Dixie Stakes at Pimlico early in his six-race, five-year-old campaign. The striking Northern Afleet-Win Approval gelding is a half-brother to Live Oak’s Miesque’s Approval, who was named Champion Grass Horse in 2006.

Live Oak’s Charlotte Weber accepts World Approval’s Eclipse Award on January 25 at Gulfstream Park. (Horsephotos.com/NTRA)

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner received 248 out of a possible 250 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, who was last year’s Champion Three-Year-Old, received two first-place votes.

Gun Runner, who was also named the Champion Older Dirt Male earlier in the evening, was a winner of four Grade 1 races culminating with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. He won five of six starts during his four-year-old season, including dominant victories in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June, the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga in August, and then finished the year with a front-running 2 1/4-length victory in the Classic at Del Mar. Gun Runner’s only defeat last year came in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, when he finished second to Arrogate. Gun Runner later turned the tables on Arrogate, who dead-heated for fifth in the Classic. Gun Runner, ridden in all of his races last year by Florent Geroux, finished the year with earnings of $6,950,700.

A chestnut son of Candy Ride (ARG) out of Quiet Giant by Giant’s Causeway, Gun Runner was bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables. Gun Runner is scheduled to make his final career start in Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, and then will be retired to stud duty at Three Chimneys Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

With the crowning of Gun Runner,  Asmussen becomes the first trainer since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 to train the Horse of the Year winner on four occasions. In addition to Gun Runner, Asmussen, a member of Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame, trained Curlin to Horse of the Year titles in 2007 and 2008 and the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

In other awards tonight, two horses from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert captured the three-year-old male and three-year-old filly titles. Gary and Mary West’s West Coast, winner of the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby, was named Champion Three-Year-Old Male, and China Horse Club’s Abel Tasman, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and the Coaching Club American Oaks, was named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.

The Champion Two-Year-Old Male title went to Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, who is trained by Chad Brown, who was also named Outstanding Trainer for the second consecutive year.

Juddmonte Farms, which campaigned Arrogate to victories in the both the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups, was named Champion Owner, and Clearksy Farms, breeders of Arrogate and Abel Tasman, was named the Outstanding Breeder. Jose Ortiz, who led all riders with more than $27 million in earnings, was named Champion Jockey.

The complete list of 2017 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below:
(Horse ages in parentheses where applicable; Country codes indicate a foreign breeding designation)

Two-Year-Old Male: Good Magic
Two-Year-Old Filly: Caledonia Road
Three-Year-Old Male: West Coast
Three-Year-Old Filly: Abel Tasman
Older Dirt Male: Gun Runner (4)
Older Dirt Female: Forever Unbridled (5)
Male Sprinter: Roy H (5)
Female Sprinter: Unique Bella (3)
Male Turf Horse: World Approval (5)
Female Turf Horse: Lady Eli (5)
Steeplechase Horse: Scorpiancer (IRE) (8)
Owner: Juddmonte Farms, Inc.
Breeder: Clearsky Farms
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Apprentice Jockey: Evin Roman
Trainer: Chad Brown
Horse of the Year: Gun Runner (4)

The Eclipse Awards
Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon the Thoroughbred horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective divisions. The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-Century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies.

Voting Overview
In voting that concluded Jan. 2, 2018, Eclipse Awards voters cast their ballots to rank the top three horses and individuals in each Championship division on a 10-5-1 point system basis. This voting established the top three finalists in each division, whose names were released on Jan. 5, 2018.

The tallies below represent only first-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.

Voter participation rate: 250/269 = 92.9%

Two-Year-Old Male (Name, First-Place Votes)
Good Magic, 131; Bolt d’Oro, 113; Catholic Boy, 3; Firenze Fire, 1; Mendelssohn, 1; Solomini, 1.

Two-Year-Old Filly
Caledonia, Road, 161; Rushing Fall, 68; Moonshine Memories, 17; Dream Tree, 2; Dream It Is, 1; Road to Victory, 1.

Three-Year-Old Male
West Coast, 229; Always Dreaming, 14; Battle of Midway, 5; Irap, 1; Mastery, 1.

Three-Year-Old Filly
Abel Tasman, 244; Unique Bella, 5; Elate, 1.

Older Dirt Male
Gun Runner, 247; Arrogate, 3.

Older Dirt Female
Forever Unbridled, 237; Songbird, 8; Stellar Wind, 4; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Male Sprinter
Roy H, 241; Imperial Hint, 5; Drefong, 1; Mind Your Biscuits, 1; Stormy Liberal, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Female Sprinter
Unique Bella, 90, Paulassilverlining, 60; Ami’s Mesa, 41; Bar of Gold, 36; Lady Aurelia, 8; By the Moon, 5; American Gal, 3; Finley’sluckycharm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Male Turf Horse
World Approval, 211; Beach Patrol 20; Talismanic (GB), 11; Highland Reel (IRE), 8.

Female Turf Horse
Lady Eli, 203; Wuheida (GB), 33; Off Limits, 12; Cambodia, 1; La Coronel, 1.

Steeplechase Horse
Scorpiancer (IRE), 92; All the Way Jose, 70; Mr. Hot Stuff, 35; Modem (GB), 7; Diplomat, 4; Swansea Mile (IRE), 3; Voter Abstentions, 39.

Owner
Juddmonte Farms, 143; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 31; Godolphin Racing, 21; Sol Kumin, Head of Plains, Sheep Pond Partners, 19; Klaravich Stables, Inc., and William H. Lawrence, 11; Calumet Farm, 7; End Zone Athletics, 3; Charles Fipke, 2; Coolmore, 1; e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, 1; Fox Hill Farm, 1; Live Oak Plantation, 1; John Oxley, 1; Stonestreet Stables, 1; Voter Abstentions, 7.

Breeder
Clearsky Farms, 141; WinStar Farm, 72; Charles Fipke, 8; Belisu Stables, 7; Live Oak Stud, 6; Godolphin Racing/Darley, 4; Brereton C. Jones, 3; Adena Springs, 1; Calumet Farm, 1; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6.

Trainer
Chad Brown, 215; Bob Baffert, 16; Steve Asmussen, 13; Mark Casse, 2; Todd Pletcher, 2; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Jockey
Jose Ortiz, 189; Mike Smith, 45; Irad Ortiz, Jr.,10; Javier Castellano, 4; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Apprentice Jockey
Evin Roman, 232; Katie Clawson, 4; Jenn Miller, 1. Voter Abstentions, 13.

Horse of the Year
Gun Runner, 248; Arrogate, 2

Award of Merit
The recipient of the Award of Merit, voted on by a panel of representatives from the three presenting organizations and previously announced, is Frank Stronach. The Award of Merit is presented to honour outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

Special Award
The recipient of the Special Awards, as voted by a panel representing the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and Daily Racing Form, and previously announced, are San Luis Rey Downs/Camarero Racetrack Rescue and Response, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association for improvements in federal regulations for horseplayers and the industry.

Media Eclipse Awards
Media Eclipse Awards also are given in the categories of photography, audio and multi-media Internet, news/enterprise writing, feature/commentary writing, national television–feature and national television–live racing programming to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing. The 2017 Media Eclipse Awards winners, determined by a judges’ panel for each category and previously announced, are:
Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports – “2017 Kentucky Derby,” Rob Hyland, Coordinating Producer; May 6, 2017.

Television Feature – NBCSN – “My Kentucky Home,” Tom Hammond, Narrator and co-producer; May 3, 2017.
Audio/Multi-Media and Internet – Daily Racing Form – “Chasing Man o’ War’s Ghost,” Barbara Livingston, writer, photographer and narrator, March 24, 2017.

Writing – News/Enterprise – Denise Steffanus – “A Call for Common Sense Testing,” Trainer magazine, February-March, 2017.

Writing – Feature/Commentary – Jason Frakes – “Gunnevera Trainer Kidnapped Twice, Now in Kentucky Derby,” which was published in the Louisville Courier-Journal on April 30, 2017.

Photography – Nancy Rokos – “Fractious Two-Year-Old,” Burlington (N.J.) County Times, October 7, 2017.

(With files from NTRA)