Edgar Prado and Michael Dickinson, the Maryland-based jockey and trainer, rank among the finalists for Eclipse Awards, horse racing's highest honor, as announced yesterday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
In addition, the Dickinson-trainee Da Hoss is a finalist for outstanding turf male, Saluter is a finalist for outstanding steeplechase horse and Coronado's Quest is a finalist for top 3-year-old male.
Stuart S. Janney III, who lives in Butler, is the majority owner of Coronado's Quest, and Jack Fisher, who lives in Monkton, is rider and trainer of Saluter.
The finalists for Horse of the Year are Awesome Again, Silver Charm and Skip Away. Carolyn Hine, a native of Highlandtown, owns Skip Away.
In an effort to increase the drama of the Eclipse Awards, the winners will not be announced until the awards dinner Feb. 16 in Bal Harbour, Fla. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, horse racing's recently created "league office," is overseeing the awards for the first time.
Although Dickinson and Da Hoss must be considered long shots to beat out Bob Baffert and Buck's Boy, respectively, Dickinson's training feat with Da Hoss ranks with the greatest. He brought the 6-year-old gelding, winner of the 1996 Breeders' Cup Mile, back after a two-year layoff to win the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile.
"This is a real honor," said Dickinson, who trains at his Tapeta Farm in Cecil County. "I feel flattered. It's a very humbling experience even to be considered. I had little to do with it, except it was my privilege to be associated with such brave horses, especially Da Hoss and Cetewayo."
Coronado's Quest won five of 11 races during his 3-year-old season, including the Haskell Invitational Handicap and Travers Stakes. But he faces tough competition in Real Quiet who, although winning only two races in 1998, won the right ones: the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Real Quiet missed becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner by a nose in the Belmont.
"I'm very pleased," said Janney, who recently retired Coronado's Quest to stud.
"I thought he clearly deserved this. I have to think he has a good chance based on the quality of races he won, the number of races he won and the speed figures he recorded."
Along with Prado, the nation's winningest rider the past two years, the jockey finalists are Jerry Bailey, winner of three straight Eclipse Awards, and Gary Stevens, who has never won an Eclipse despite his election last year to racing's Hall of Fame.
Prado is on vacation in his native Peru.
"He's in excellent company," said Steve Rushing, who books Prado's mounts. "Just to be considered one of the top three riders in the country is quite an honor."
Fisher, who trained the 9-year-old gelding Saluter to a perfect three-for-three season over jumps, could not be reached for comment. He is recovering from a farm accident in which his right leg was crushed and fractured in six places.
Of all the categories, horse and human, Horse of the Year is the most prestigious. Skip Away is the favorite despite late defeats last year in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic. From February to September, he won seven straight major stakes, five of which were Grade I.
His main competition is Awesome Again, who won all six of his races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic. That race Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs was not only the richest ever run but also boasted a field billed as perhaps the strongest of all time.
Voting for Eclipse Awards were members of the National Turf Writers Association, tracks' racing secretaries and some employees of the Daily Racing Form.
2-year-old filly: Excellent Meeting, Silverbulletday
2-year-old male: Answer Lively, Exploit, Worldly Manner
3-year-old filly: Banshee Breeze, Jersey Girl
3-year-old male: Coronado's Quest, Real Quiet, Victory Gallop
Sprinter: Affirmed Success, Kelly Kip, Reraise
Older female: Escena, Mossflower, Sharp Cat
Older male: Awesome Again, Silver Charm, Skip Away
Horse of the Year: Awesome Again, Silver Charm, Skip Away
Turf female: Fiji, Maxzene, Memories of Silver
Turf male: Buck's Boy, Da Hoss, Royal Anthem
Steeplechase: Flat Top, Hokan, Saluter
Owner: Beverly and Bob Lewis, Mike Pegram, Frank Stronach
Trainer: Bob Baffert, Patrick Byrne, Michael Dickinson
Jockey: Jerry Bailey, Edgar Prado, Gary Stevens
Apprentice jockey: Jeremy Beasley, Shaun Bridgmohan, J. C. Gonzalez
Pub Date: 1/08/99