No matter what time of the day or night you’re reading this, odds are you’re little more than a few mouse clicks away from horse betting somewhere in the world. With action from Hollywood to Hong Kong at more than a 100 racetracks across the globe, you might think that would be more than enough action to satisfy even the most ardent of Mr. Ed followers.
Think again, fetlock breath.
Some enterprising sportsbooks are offering odds on which horses will pick up (not literally, of course) Eclipse Awards for racing excellence when the trophies are handed out in Beverly Hills, California, Jan. 22. It’s a horse of another color, to be sure, a different way for equine bettors to match cold cash to hard convictions.
Even the most adventurous bookmakers aren’t offering odds for every category, some of the honors so obvious that there is no legitimate contest for those awards:
Two-year-old colt or gelding: Street Sense romped by 10 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile destroying a quality field. Although it was his lone stakes victory, there is no other alternative.
Two-year-old filly: Dreaming of Anna is undefeated, has beaten males and rolled in the Breeders’ Cup. While it’s a forgone conclusion that she’ll win the hardware, wouldn’t it be nice if some innovative bet taker gave odds on whether the vote will be unanimous?
Three-year-old colt or gelding: There is great sentiment for injured Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro but hardly anyone seriously believes that Preakness, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Bernardini won get the trophy.
Older male and Horse of the Year: Invasor won four Grade 1 races, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, leaving no doubt as to his worthiness.
Grass Female: Ouija Board is headed to the Hall of Fame. She should pick up an Eclipse Award on her way.
Those were the easy ones. There is legitimate competition-—not to mention spirited horse betting—-as to which horses will win in four other categories:
Sprint: Voters would have been reluctant to award the title to Thor’s Echo off a single victory, albeit in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, so his connections wisely took the horse to Maryland where he won the De Francis Dash at Laurel, Nov. 25. That ought to be enough to take the title over Bondonaro and Dubai Escapade.
Three-year-old filly: Pine Island was the division leader heading into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff but broke down in the race and was humanely destroyed. Will voters recall that she had four first and two seconds in six starts before her death or turn to Wait a While, a graded stakes winner on both coasts? That’s not just the question but the bet.
Older female: Like Pine Island, Fleet Indian broke down on Breeders’ Cup day and could not finish the Distaff. Her life was saved and voters will have to overlook six victories in as many starts prior to the BC Distaff if they want to cast ballots for Round Pond, who won that ill-fated race and finished the year with three wins, a second and a third in five starts.
Grass male: This could be the most contentious category of all with as many as six candidates expected to garner votes. The edge has to go to Miesque’s Approval, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (and four other grass races) over Red Rocks, Lava Man, English Channel, The Tin Man, and Aragon.
There’s also a race of sorts among the two-legged set, including trophies for top jockey, trainer, owner, breeder and apprentice jockey. Garrett Gomez has a clear edge over Edgar Prado and Victor Espinoza for top rider while Todd Pletcher, who set a record for earnings, is the conditioner to beat, although there will be sentiment (and votes) for Michael Matz, who overcame the Barbaro tragedy to return to Churchill Downs to saddle Round Pond to a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Other outfits earned more money and had more winners but the best owner statue likely will go to Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who drew praise for their unwavering support of Barbaro, following that colt’s surgery.
A group of turf writers and racing secretaries will make the decision as to which horses will win Eclipse Awards but if you’d rather do some horse betting to win a race than win a vote, the next horse race is just minutes away. For those horse bettors who can’t be bothered with the ballot, every day is Election Day at the races.