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Early Opportunity to View the Eclipse

November 22, 1998|BOB MIESZERSKI

Even though a couple of important races are still to be run this year, nothing that happens the rest of 1998 should alter the Eclipse landscape.

Here's one man's opinion on who should win the awards:

2-Year-Old: Answer Lively. The son of Lively One has to be the choice in this category based on his narrow escape in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but Worldly Manner was the best in his age group. However, his sale for a reported $5 million effectively ended his 1998 season after impressive wins in the Best Pal Stakes and Del Mar Futurity. Getting back to Answer Lively, let's just say that come May 1, no Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner still will not have won the Kentucky Derby.

2-Year-Old Filly: Silverbulletday. She has lost only once in six starts for owner Mike Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert and is perfect in two tries around two turns. Jockey Gary Stevens rode her perfectly in both the Alcibiades and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but stablemate Excellent Meeting, who finished second at Churchill Downs, could very well turn the tables when they get together at longer distances next year.

3-Year-Old: Real Quiet. His year ended after his near-miss in the Belmont Stakes, but the son of Quiet American did enough with victories in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Victory Gallop was winless after his Belmont success and Coronado's Quest, who skipped all three Triple Crown races, only looked good when he was able to set a slow pace. The fact he wasn't beaten all that badly in the Breeders' Cup Classic was more a commentary on how disappointing a race that really was.

3-Year-Old Filly: Jersey Girl. Before she was injured in August, Jersey Girl was unbeaten in seven starts this year and soundly defeated Banshee Breeze when they got together in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park in June. She also had three Grade I victories, the same as Banshee Breeze, who could have clinched the title with a win in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Instead, she missed in a photo to Escena as the favorite.

Older Male: Skip Away. Yes, he did conclude his year--and his career--with flops in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic, but that doesn't take away from his seven consecutive wins to start 1998, the fact he traveled all over the country and wound up second on the all-time money list behind Cigar.

Older Female: Sharp Cat. She missed the Breeders' Cup Distaff after a life-threatening incident a week before the race, but the Storm Cat filly was awesome in her four races this year for owner Prince Ahmed Salman and trainer Wally Dollase. After watching the Distaff, it seems safe to say she would have romped in the race if healthy.

Male Turf Horse: Buck's Boy. In a division where nobody stood out, the Illinois-bred gelding merits the honor based on his front-running win in the Breeders' Cup Turf. The 5-year-old won six of 10 and will try to add to his resume Dec. 12 in the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, where his opponents are expected to include Yagli and Dushyantor, who finished 2-3 in the Turf.

Female Turf Horse: Fiji. With six wins in seven starts, she already has earned the honor and it doesn't matter if she shows up in the $700,000 Matriarch on Nov. 29 at Hollywood Park. Indications are now she will try for her seventh win in eight starts this weekend.

Sprinter: Reraise. The colt who began his career in a $62,500 claimer about 13 months ago likely wrapped up his '98 campaign with a front-running score in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, continuing a run where California-based sprinters have dominated the race. Beginning with Thirty Slews in 1992, horses from here have won five of the last six Sprints. To the shock of no one outside New York, Affirmed Success, the Vosburgh winner and Sprint favorite, had to settle for fifth 12 days ago in Kentucky.

Jockey: Stevens. An Eclipse is certainly overdue for the Hall of Fame rider and he is on his way to the money title, having surpassed $18 million. He won the Dubai World Cup with Silver Charm, kept Real Quiet from the Triple Crown with a masterpiece on Victory Gallop in the Belmont and had a pair of wins in the Breeders' Cup.

Trainer: Bob Baffert. After Bill Mott won the honor two years in a row, it looks like Baffert's turn for a double. He is tops in money won, won two-thirds of the Triple Crown again and went to Dubai and won the $4-million World Cup with Silver Charm. At home, he won training titles at three of the first four major meets of the year and set an Oak Tree record with 21 victories in 32 days.


Premier Property, the 3-10 favorite, remained unbeaten Saturday at Hollywood Park, easily winning the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes. Ridden by jockey David Flores for owner Hal Earnhardt and trainer Baffert, the 2-year-old son of Out Of Place is now perfect in three starts after his win in 1:23 1/5 for the seven furlongs. Select Few, a 23-1 shot, was second. . . . Looking to win his fifth in a row, Big Jag is the 7-5 favorite against five rivals in the $100,000 On Trust Handicap today at Hollywood Park. Completing the field of California breds, from the inside out, are Mateo, Longliner, Bagshot, Kingdom Found and Zanie Reality.

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