Three Midlantic-breds among Eclipse finalists
by Frank Vespe
Three horses bred in the mid-Atlantic region are among the nearly three dozen runners named as finalists for the Eclipse Awards, which recognize excellence in 11 different divisions, as well as Horse of the Year.
The award winners will be announced January 25 at Gulfstream Park.
Pennsylvania-breds All the Way Jose and Unique Bella are joined as division finalists by the Virginia-bred Stellar Wind. Unique Bella is a finalist in two categories, three-year-old filly and female sprinter. All the Way Jose is a finalist for top steeplechase horse, and Stellar Wind is one of three finalists for older dirt female.
Unique Bella, bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable, is a daughter of Tapit out of the graded stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Unrivaled Belle. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Don Alberto Stable, she won five of six starts in 2017, earning $550,000 in the process. Among those wins were a Grade 1 score in the La Brea and four other graded scores, all in Grade 2 or Grade 3 company. She was a disappointing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Now six years old, Stellar Wind added another strong year to her already terrific career. Bred in Virginia by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Stellar Wind is a daughter of Curlin out of the Malibu Moon mare Evening Star. Now an earner of over $2.2 million in her career, she won three of four starts in 2017, all in Grade 1 company. She began her year with a win in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn in April and then followed that up with June and July scores in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar, respectively.
Like Unique Bella, she had a disappointing Breeders’ Cup outing, finishing eighth in the Distaff. In all, she earned $800,000 on the season. She campaigned for Hronis Racing LLC and trainer John Sadler.
All the Way Jose entered 2017 winless since 2014 but scored twice during the year, most notably taking the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory at Belmont Park in September. For the season, he won twice and finished in the money in six of seven starts, including placings in two other Grade 1 events. He earned $179,300 on the year.
All the Way Jose, a now-eight-year-old Senor Swinger gelding out of the Northern Baby mare Maternity Leave, was bred in the Keystone State by his trainer, Jonathan Sheppard. He is owned by Buttonwood Farm.
Click here for a complete list of Eclipse Award finalists.