FAR HILLS, N.J.--Mr. Hot Stuff won the $400,000 G1 Grand National Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills Race Meet on Oct. 21, beating Modem by a nose with All the Way Jose another nose back, making what had been the muddy waters of the selection of the Eclipse Award into a complete morass.
There have been five G1 steeplechase races and now five different winners, so without a clear champion, what criteria should be used to determine the winner of the Eclipse Award?
Should it be the last horse to win a G1 or the horse that's had the best overall record for the year?
If it's the last horse to win a G1, the it would be Mr. Hot Stuff, who also won the race with the biggest purse of $400,000.
If it's the horse with the best overall record, would it be All the Way Jose, who won the G1 Lonesome Glory and placed third in two other G1 stakes as well as winning a handicap and placing second and third in two other handicaps, or Modem, who placed second in four G1 races but has never won a race in this country.
Scorpiancer, owned by Bruton Street-US, trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott, won the G3 Temple Gwathmey April 22 in Middleburg and won the first G1 of the year, the Calvin Houghland Iroquois on May 13, but he hasn't raced since.
ROSBRIAN FARM'S Swansea Mile (Ire). trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Michael Mitchell, won the A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga on July 27, was third in the Lonesome Glory Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 21 and fifth in the New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga on Aug. 24.
Along with those G1 races, Swansea Mile finished fourth in the G3 Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap in Middleburg on April 22, placed second and third in two allowance optional claiming races and sixth in an allowance.
Flying Elvis Stable's Diplomat, trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by Bernie Dalton, won the Turf Writers and placed third in the Smithwick.
Along with his two G1 races, Diplomat was fifth in the G2 David Semmes Memorial at Great Meadow on May 6, won an allowance race at Parx on July 8, was fourth in an allowance optional claiming and was third behind All the Way Jose in a handicap at Fair Hill on May 27.
Mrs. S.K. Johnston, Jr.'s Mr. Hot Stuff, trained by Fisher and ridden by Danny Mullins, won the Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills on Oct. 21 by a nose over Modem and another nose over All the Way Jose, was fifth in the Lonesome Glory and seventh in the Turf Writers but didn't finish in the Iroquois and was third in the G3 Temple Gwathmey.
Robert A. Kinsley's Modem, trained by Elizabeth Voss and ridden by Jack Doyle, was second in the Smithwick, the Turf Writers, the Lonesome Glory and the Grand National, but he's never won a race in this country.
Buttonwood Farm's All the Way Jose, trained by Jonathan Sheppard and ridden in his last three races by Darren Nagle, won the Lonesome Glory and placed third in the Turf Writers and the Grand National, but he lost his rider, Keri Brion, an apprentice, in the Smithwick.
Along with those G1 races, all the Way Jose, ridden by Brion, won a handicap at Fair Hill and placed second and third in two other handicaps.
Mr. Hot Stuff bear All the Way Jose once by a nose, but All the Way Jose beat Mr. Hot Stuff twice, once by 5 lengths in the Lonesome Glory and once by 9 3/4 in the Turf Writers.
According to the chart, All the Way Jose was bumped by Modem near the last fence, so did that have any effect on the outcoome of the race?
Mr. Hot Stuff won in a hunt meet while All the Way Jose won at a flat track.
And, can a horse that has never won a race in this country, Modem, be named Eclipse Champion?
So who is going to be the Eclipse Award winner?
There probably as many different opinions as there are people considering it.
HENDRIKS saddled Rosbrian Farm's Officer Sydney, ridden by Ross Geraghty, to win the $35,000 Rating Handicap by 5 lengths over William L. Pape's Giza, trained by Sheppard and ridden by Nagle, at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 15.
In the $30,000 Ratings Handicap, Doug Fout saddled Beverly Steinman's Reporter, ridden by Shane Crimin, to win by 4 3/4 lengths over KMSN Stable's Able Archer, trained by Sheppard and ridden by Kieran Norris.
Paddy's Cown, owned by Magalen O. Bryant, trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Crimin, won the $25,000 Maiden Hurdle, and Indigo Heart, owned by Carrington Holdings, trained by Arch Kingsley and ridden by Michael Mitchell, won the $15,000 Maiden Claining.
Fout saddled Four Virginia Gents' Worried Man, ridden by Norris, to win the $40,000 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup by 1 3/4 lengths over Armata Stables' Grand Manan, trained by William Meister and ridden by Nagle, while Jeff Murphy saddled his Secret Soul, ridden by Byron Moorcroft, to win the $15,000 Maiden Timber.
At Genesee Valley Hunt Races on Oct. 14, Charles C. Fenwick Jr.'s Doc Cebu, trained by Fisher and ridden by Hadden Frost, won the $30,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup by 11 1/4 lengths over Blythe Miller Davies' Sumo Power, trained by Joseph Davies and ridden by Gonzague Cottreau, and Fisher saddled Bruton Street-US' Preseli, ridden by Frost, to win the $15,000 Maiden Timber.