Thoroughbred racing is rarely as predictable as the this year's Eclipse Awards, staged Thursday for the sixth consecutive year in Gulfstream's Sport of Kings Theater.
Ten of the 11 horses honored as the best of their division were widely anticipated, including Gun Runner as Horse of the Year.
The category in doubt was outstanding 2-year-old of 2017. Good Magic, whose triumph in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is the only win of his career, edged out Bolt D'Oro, who was third at the Breeders' Cup after winning a pair of Grade 1 stakes. Good Magic is training in South Florida for the Triple Crown events under Chad Brown, who won his second consecutive Eclipse as outstanding trainer.
Gun Runner, the odds-on favorite to win Saturday's Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park, was the only double winner. First in five of six starts last season, he also took the trophy as outstanding older dirt horse.
West Coast was named 3-year-old champion on the strength of late-season wins in the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby and a third in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Among those he beat out was Always Dreaming, winner of the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby but winless in three starts after the first Saturday in May. West Coast is the only other Eclipse winner who will challenge Gun Runner Saturday.
Abel Tasman, first or second in seven starts, including a triumph in the Kentucky Oaks, was voted the outstanding 3-year-old filly.
Forever Unbridled, undefeated in an injury-abbreviated three-race campaign capped by a score in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, was honored as outstanding older filly and mare.
A victory by Caledonia Road in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies was enough to capture the 2-year-old filly award. Her only other win was a maiden race.
The sprint championships went to West Coast-based horses. Roy H, winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, was named top male. Unique Bella was cited as best female for five wins in six races, with the lone blemish a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Distaff Sprint.
World Approval, who capped a 5-for-6 season with a score in the Breeders' Cup (turf) Mile, took home the prize as Turf Male. Sentimental favorite Lady Eli, who came back from a life-threatening hoof ailment to win three graded stakes, was World Approval's female counterpart.
Scorpiancer, a winner of two stakes in as many starts, was voted best steeplechaser.
Jose Ortiz, leading rider in New York and a Gulfstream winter regular, won his first Eclipse as outstanding jockey. Ortiz, whose major wins included Tapwrit in the Belmont Stakes and Good Magic at the Breeders' Cup, led all North American riders in purse earnings with more than $27 million. Evin Roman, who rides in Southern California, was honored as the top apprentice.
Gulfstream owner Frank Stronach, who rebuilt the track into an entertainment complex and created the Pegasus, was presented with an award of merit.