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Saint Liam Wins Eclipse

For second year in a row, Breeders' Cup Classic winner earns horse of the year. He edges Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex.

January 24, 2006|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

For the second year in a row, the Breeders' Cup Classic winner has been voted horse of the year.

Emulating 2004 winner Ghostzapper, Saint Liam took home the biggest prize when the Eclipse Awards were announced Monday night at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.

A son of Saint Ballado who raced for William and Suzanne Warren Jr. and trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., Saint Liam, who was retired after his win in the Classic on Oct. 29 at Belmont Park, was honored over Afleet Alex, the winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The Belmont, which Afleet Alex won by seven lengths, turned out to be the final race for the Northern Afleet colt. Hopes of a comeback were ended late last year when his retirement was announced.

In voting by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn./Equibase, the Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Assn., Saint Liam received 194 first-place votes. Afleet Alex, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby before winning the other two Triple Crown races, totaled 56 votes.

A winner of nine of 20 lifetime starts with earnings of $4,456,995, Saint Liam won three additional Grade I races before the Breeders' Cup Classic. His other victories came in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs and the Woodward at Belmont. He was also chosen the top older male.

Afleet Alex was the runaway winner of champion 3-year-olds with 253 of 262 first-place votes.

His win was hardly a surprise, nor were those by Folklore (2-year-old filly) and Stevie Wonderboy (2-year-old colt).

Each wrapped up his title with wins in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, respectively. Both were defeated in their first starts of 2006.

Stevie Wonderboy was second to Brother Derek in the San Rafael on Jan. 14 at Santa Anita, and Folklore was third two days later in the Santa Ynez.

Bobby Frankel had the two winners in the grass categories, the first time a trainer had swept both divisions in the same year.

Leroidesanimaux was chosen top male turf horse in a very close race despite finishing second to Artie Schiller in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The Brazilian bred, who won eight of 10 starts in his last two years at the track for Goncalo Borges Torrealba's Stud T N T and Stonewall Farm, had 119 votes, three more than Artie Schiller. Perhaps the difference was Leroidesanimaux had two Grade I victories in 2005 compared with one for Artie Schiller.

Intercontinental, who went wire to wire at 15-1 in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, was a runaway winner of the female turf honor.

Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, Intercontinental, a daughter of Danehill, got 245 votes, compared with eight for Cesario, the Japanese-bred filly who dominated her opponents in the American Oaks on July 3 at Hollywood Park in her lone U.S. appearance.

Other winners were: Lost In The Fog (sprinter), Ashado (older female), Smuggler (3-year-old filly) and McDynamo (steeplechase horse).

This was a repeat of sorts for Ashado. Now retired, she won an Eclipse in 2004 as the 3-year-old filly champion.

John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher were repeat winners in the jockey and trainer category, respectively, and Michael Gill was voted top owner.

Frank Stronach's Adena Springs operation was chosen top breeder for the second year in a row, and Emma Jayne-Wilson, who was the leading rider at Woodbine in Toronto, was voted the outstanding apprentice jockey.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Top billing

Saint Liam was selected horse of the year during the Eclipse Award ceremony Monday night in Beverly Hills:

Year Horse of the Year

* 1971...Ack Ack

* 1972...Secretariat

* 1973...Secretariat

* 1974...Forego

* 1975...Forego

* 1976...Forego

* 1977...Seattle Slew

* 1978...Affirmed

* 1979...Affirmed

* 1980...Spectacular Bid

* 1981...John Henry

* 1982...Conquistador Cielo

* 1983...All Along

* 1984...John Henry

* 1985...Spend A Buck

* 1986...Lady's Secret

* 1987...Ferdinand

Year Horse of the Year

* 1988...Alysheba

* 1989...Sunday Silence

* 1990...Criminal Type

* 1991...Black Tie Affair

* 1992...A.P. Indy

* 1993...Kotashaan

* 1994...Holy Bull

* 1995...Cigar

* 1996...Cigar

* 1997...Favorite Trick

* 1998...Skip Away

* 1999...Charismatic

* 2000...Tiznow

* 2001...Point Given

* 2002...Azeri

* 2003...Mineshaft

* 2004...Ghostzapper

* 2005...Saint Liam

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