Issue 750

6 ISSUE 750 - THURSDAY 20 JANUARY 2022 IN A mirror image of the 2021 racing season, Godolphin has dominated the voting for America’s Eclipse Award championships with six of the stable’s runners earning status as finalists for trophies and the Maktoum family’s operation a finalist for, and likely winner of, awards as outstanding owner and breeder. Finalists were announced on 15 January in all categories except Horse of the Year, but winners will not be revealed until the Eclipse Awards ceremony on 10 February at Santa Anita Park. Perhaps most notably, Godolphin’s European and Dubai-based trainer Charlie Appleby trained three of the horses deemed finalists for American championship laurels after a fabulous season of raiding big prizes across the continent. All three of those Appleby runners won Breeders’ Cup events and all three were by Darley’s superstar European stallion Dubawi. Modern Games, who captured the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf, is a finalist in the juvenile male category alongside American dirt runners Corniche, who is the likely winner since he prevailed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and fellow Grade One victor Jack Christopher. Godolphin’s Breeders’ Cup Mile and Turf winners Space Blues and Yibir, respectively, both received recognition as finalists for the Eclipse Award as outstanding male turf runner. Of the stable’s American-based runners, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality is a finalist for top honours in the 3yo male category, while Dubai World Cup hero Mystic Guide and Grade One winner Maxfield both are finalists in the older male division. Essential Quality is in a contentious voting race with Amr Zedan’s star crossed Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, and that pair is joined as finalists by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner and potential Saudi Cup competitor Life Is Good. The outcome in this category is expected to be at least partly determined by voters’ visceral feelings about trainer Bob Baffert, who sent out Medina Spirit to be his record seventh Derby winner. Some members of the National Turf Writers & Broadcasters Association, who join voters from Daily Racing Form and Equibase in casting ballots for the championship winners, have publicly stated on social media that they refused to vote for horses trained by Baffert. Medina Spirit tested positive for a slight overage of the legal medication betamethasone following the Derby and Churchill Downs has banned him from the track and from the 2022 Derby since, they stated, overages of allowed medications also had been previously detected in a few of his other runners in different stakes. However, Kentucky racing officials have taken no action yet against Medina Spirit and he remains the official Derby winner. Additional post-race testing has revealed the form of betamethasone found in his system is not the type regulated by Kentucky rules, Baffert has asserted. In his two clashes with Essential Quality, Medina Spirit finished ahead of his Godolphin rival both times, including in their Breeders’ Cup Classic battle with front running winner Knicks Go when Medina Spirit was second and Essential Quality third. Each colt won two Grade One races. So, in any normal year not poisoned by this unprecedented kind of turmoil, Medina Godolphin Sets Pace in Contentious Year of Eclipse Voting Charlie Appleby Essential Quality Essential Quality Brad Cox Space Bl es MICHELE MACDONALD ‘IN FULL STRIDE’