The mid-Atlantic will be well represented at the Eclipse Awards ceremony on January 18, and there’s a chance that the region may take home some hardware.[boxify cols_use =”2″ cols =”5″ position =”right” order =”none” box_spacing =”5″ padding =”3″ background_color =”gray” background_opacity =”20″ border_width =”1″ border_color =”blue” border_style =”dashed” height =”300″ ]Region’s Eclipse Finalists

  • Princess of Sylmar — 3 year-old filly
  • Divine Fortune — Steeplechase horse
  • Dance to Bristol — Filly and mare sprinter
  • Wise Dan — Male turf horse, older male, Horse of the Year
  • Victor Carrasco — Apprentice jockey
  • Midwest Thoroughbreds — Owner[/boxify]

A pair of Pennsylvania-breds are among the finalists in their divisions.  Princess of Sylmar, a homebred daughter of Majestic Warrior racing for Ed Stanco’s King of Prussia Stable, is one of three finalists for three year-old filly honors.  After a year in which she won four grade 1 events, including the Kentucky Oaks and the Beldame, the latter against defending handicap mare champ Royal Delta, she has a convincing case to make.  But she’s not a likely winner, as Beholder, whom she beat narrowly in the Oaks, turned the tables with a smashing win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and is favored to take home the year-end prize.

In the steeplechase category, Pennsylvania-bred Divine Fortune, a now-11 year-old son of Royal Anthem trained by Jonathan Sheppard and owned by him and William Pape, won this year’s Grade 1 Grand National Hurdle Stakes to earn a nod as an Eclipse Award finalist.  He also ran second in the Grade 1 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes during the year, and third in the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga.

In addition to the region-breds, a couple of region-based entrants are among the finalists.

Dance to Bristol, the now-five year-old daughter of Speightstown whose seven-race winning streak captivated the racing nation, is one of three filly and mare sprinter finalists.  Trained at the Bowie Training Center by Ollie Figgins, III, whose main string is actually at Charles Town, Dance to Bristol won five stakes on the year, three of them graded.  She capped her winning streak with a narrow win over Book Review in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga.  She completed her career with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, a race in which she bled through her Lasix.  She’ll face stiff competition, though, as Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint champ Groupie Doll — who had an otherwise inconsequential season — and Mizdirection, the turf sprinter whose four seasonal wins included her second straight over the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, are the other finalists.

Apprentice jockey Victor Carrasco is another who rates a big shot in his category.  The 21 year-old, who raced primarily at Laurel Park, led the nation’s apprentice riders in wins (215) and purse earnings (more than $4.3 million) during 2013.  So far in 2014, he’s continued to be red-hot, with seven wins from 22 starts to date, including his first stakes victory.

Among the owner finalists is Midwest Thoroughbreds, the husband-and-wife operation that, though not based in the region, has enjoyed significant success in the region, with Jamie Ness guiding strings at Delaware and at Laurel.  Though the team had 171 more wins than its nearest competitor, it likely will not win the big prize, as Ken and Sarah Ramsey netted more than $12 million in purse earnings, about $5 million more than Midwest.

Finally, it’s worth noting Wise Dan.  The gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry will almost certainly win Male Turf Horse honors and is favored to win both Older Male and Horse of the Year plaudits, as well.  His sire stands at Dana Point Farm in Pennsylvania.

(Featured image by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.)