Horse of Year honor goes to Wise Dan at Eclipse Awards

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Wise Dan easily beat out I’ll Have Another for Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards on Saturday night.

Wise Dan won five of six starts in 2012, winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile in course-record time and two other Grade I turf stakes. The 5-year-old gelding’s lone defeat was by a head in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, where he gave weight to winner Ron the Greek.

Wise Dan received 194 votes in balloting by the National Thoroughbred Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters to top I’ll Have Another (30) and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (12).

Trained by Charles Lopresti, Wise Dan became the first gelding to win Horse of the Year since John Henry in 1984. He also became the first horse to sweep Horse of the Year, top older male and top male turf horse honors since John Henry in 1981.

I’ll Have Another won all four starts, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He was scratched from the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury that led to his retirement.

Other winners included Zagora as top female turf horse, Royal Delta as top older female, Dale Romans as outstanding trainer, Ramon Dominguez as outstanding jockey, Godolphin Racing LLC as outstanding owner and Darley as outstanding breeder. Baton Rouge native Michael Beychok won outstanding handicapper.

Dominguez, who suffered a fractured skull in a spill Friday at Aqueduct, won for the third straight year.

He set a North American thoroughbred racing earnings record with $25,582,252 and had 341 wins from 1,398 mounts despite missing nearly two months because of neck and foot injuries.