Arrogate and Chrome clash in Horse of Year vote
Highland Reel and Queen's Trust also feature on Eclipse Awards shortlist
Seven days before they are set to meet on the track in the Pegasus World Cup, Arrogate and California Chrome go head-to-head on Saturday in the ultra-prestigious Horse of the Year ballot at the Eclipse Awards ceremony in Florida.
Although he was beaten by his younger rival in the Breeders' Cup Classic, California Chrome remains the most popular racehorse in the US and is favourite to regain the title he won in 2013 after a season in which he won the Dubai World Cup and the Pacific Classic, Del Mar's signature race, by five lengths from subsequent Distaff heroine Beholder.
Arrogate is likely to come out on top as world champion next week when the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings are revealed in London but the Eclipse Awards carry much more weight in the States, where they represent the pinnacle of achievement and define the de facto champions of the sport. There is no direct corollary in Europe – the Cartier Awards, for instance, don't come close.
Since the awards began in 1971, John Henry is the only horse ever to regain the senior title. Brilliant filly Songbird, who lost her unbeaten record after a titanic battle with Beholder at the Breeders' Cup, is the third name on the Horse of the Year ballot.
There is European interest elsewhere as Breeders' Cup Turf winner Highland Reel up against his Santa Anita victim Flintshire and Mile victor Tourist in the turf category, won by Cape Blanco and Conduit in the last decade.
Fellow Breeders' Cup winner Queen's Trust faces a stiff task against Songbird among three-year-old fillies, while US-trained Royal Ascot winners Tepin and Lady Aurelia also feature on the shortlist in their respective categories.
The 46th Eclipse Awards ceremony takes place on Saturday night at Gulfstream Park. The outcome is determined by 264 eligible voters representing the the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB).
The special Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime achievement will be received by journalists Andrew Beyer, creator of the speed figures that dominate US racing, and Steven Crist, racing writer and former publisher of the Daily Racing Form.
Eclipse Award finalists for 2016
Horse of the Year Arrogate, California Chrome, Songbird
Two-Year-Old Male Classic Empire, Not This Time, Practical Joke
Two-Year-Old Filly Champagne Room, Lady Aurelia, New Money Honey
Three-Year-Old Male Arrogate, Exaggerator, Nyquist
Three-Year-Old Filly Cathryn Sophia, Queen’s Trust, Songbird
Older Dirt Male California Chrome, Frosted, Lord Nelson
Older Dirt Female Beholder, Cavorting, Stellar Wind
Male Sprinter A.P. Indian, Drefong, Lord Nelson
Female Sprinter Finest City, Haveyougoneaway, Paulassilverlining
Male Turf Horse Flintshire, Highland Reel, Tourist
Female Turf Horse Lady Eli, Miss Temple City, Tepin
Steeplechase Horse Rawnaq, Scorpiancer, Top Striker
Owner Juddmonte Farms, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Spendthrift Farm LLC
Breeder Clearsky Farms, Darley, WinStar Farm, LLC
Trainer Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Mark Casse
Jockey Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith
Apprentice Jockey Kevin Gomez, Lane Luzzi, Luis Ocasio