Horse of the Year: Voters Unite for American Pharoah

Posted Jan. 16, 2016

American Pharoah was unanimously named Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream Park tonight. Here's a rundown of the evening's highlights and all the winners at the 45th annual ceremony.

It followed that American Pharoah also was a unanimous choice for Champion 3-year-old. In 2015, American Pharoah won seven of eight races -- six of them grade I events: the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Haskell Invitational and Breeders’ Cup Classic. He became the first horse since 1978 to sweep the Triple Crown series and is the only Triple Crown winner to capture the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which was first run in 1984. American Pharoah also set a single season earnings record of $8,288,800.

It was also a big night for the colt's team as Zayat Stables won both the Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder awards, and Bob Baffert won his fourth Outstanding Trainer Award. American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, finished second in the Outstanding Jockey category to Javier Castellano, who captured the honor for the third consecutive year.

American Pharoah is the second unanimous choice for Horse of the Year, joining John Henry's selection in 1981. The Triple Crown winner received all 261 votes from the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Daily Racing Form and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association block of Equibase field personnel and North American racing officials.

“I am still pinching myself that it all really happened,” owner-breeder Ahmed Zayat told America's Best Racing. “You reflect on how incredible this horse ran and how kind he has been. He is a dream come true, and he uplifted the entire industry. He excited a nation and gave everyone hope that the Triple Crown could be done again. He is a gift from God to all of us.”

“I was dealing with a freak of nature,” Baffert said. “His resilience is what separated him. He could take a lot and keep on bringing it. He’s the only one I could get away with putting on a plane that many times. I’d get him back after a race, go easy with him for a week, and then he’d go back to training, and the racing hadn’t taken anything out of him at all."

Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder, undefeated in five starts in 2015, won her third Eclipse Award, taking the Older Dirt Female trophy. She won the 2-year-old Filly Championship in 2012 and was the Champion 3-Year-Old Filly of 2013.

In voting that concluded Jan. 2, 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.

Only first-place votes counted in determining the division winners, with one vote equalling one point. The participation rate was 92.88 percent, with 261 of 281 eligible voters submitting ballots. The votes were tabulated and certified by Strothman and Company.

Division Winners

Two-Year-Old Male: Nyquist

Two-Year-Old Filly: Songbird

Three-Year-Old Male: American Pharoah

Three-Year-Old Filly: Stellar Wind

Older Dirt Male: Honor Code (4 years old)

Older Dirt Female: Beholder (5)

Male Sprinter: Runhappy (3)

Female Sprinter: La Verdad (5)

Male Turf Horse: Big Blue Kitten (7)

Female Turf Horse: Tepin (4)

Steeplechase Horse: Dawalan (FR) (5)

Owner: Zayat Stables

Breeder: Zayat Stables

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Apprentice Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Horse of the Year: American Pharoah

First-Place Vote Details

Two-Year-Old Male: Nyquist, 255; Mohaymen, 3; Voter Abstentions, 3

Two-Year-Old Filly: Songbird, 260, Catch a Glimpse, 1

Three-Year-Old Male: American Pharoah, 261

Three-Year-Old Filly: Stellar Wind, 108; I’m a Chatterbox, 47; Found (IRE), 46; Lady Eli, 34; Lovely Maria, 12; Curalina, 11; Include Betty, 2; Voter Abstentions, 1

Older Dirt Male: Honor Code, 126; Liam’s Map, 95; Tonalist, 14; Effinex, 12; Shared Belief, 9; California Chrome, 3. Voter Abstentions, 2

Older Dirt Female: Beholder, 256; Stopchargingmaria, 4; Sheer Drama, 1

Male Sprinter: Runhappy, 255; Private Zone, 2; Rock Fall, 2; Mongolian Saturday, 1; Secret Circle, 1

Female Sprinter: La Verdad, 98; Wavell Avenue, 90; Lady Shipman, 41; Cavorting, 19; Unbridled Forever, 5; Ageless, 1; Birdonthewire, 1; Fantastic Style, 1; Voter Abstentions, 5

Male Turf Horse: Big Blue Kitten, 134; Golden Horn (GB), 63; The Pizza Man, 41; Flintshire, 18; Chiropractor, 1; Grand Arch, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3

Female Turf Horse: Tepin, 211; Found (IRE), 38; Stephanie’s Kitten, 8; Lady Eli, 2; Curvy (GB), 1; Voter Abstentions, 1

Steeplechase Horse: Dawalan (FR), 165; Bob Le Beau (IRE), 47; African Oil (FR), 2; Demonstrative, 2; Grinding Speed, 1; Voter Abstentions, 44

Owner: Zayat Stables, 220; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 26; Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., 6; Reddam Racing, 2; Godolphin Racing, 1; Voter Abstentions, 6

Breeder: Zayat Stables, 190; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 39; Darley, 13; WinStar Farm, 5; Adena Springs, 4; Spendthrift Farm, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, 1; Voter Abstentions, 8

Trainer: Bob Baffert, 200; Todd Pletcher, 44; Chad Brown, 12; Karl Broberg, 1; Jerry Hollendorfer, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3

Jockey: Javier Castellano, 184; Victor Espinoza, 70; Joe Bravo, 1; Pedro Monterrey, Jr., 1; Irad Ortiz, Jr., 1; Joel Rosario, 1; John Velazquez, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2

Apprentice Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione, 149; Eric Cancel, 63; Angel Cruz, 9; Ashley Broussard, 6; David Lopez, 3; Jorge Robles, 1; Voter Abstentions, 30

Horse of the Year: American Pharoah, 261

Edited NTRA release