WEST GROVE, Pa--Winston C. owned by Ed Swyer's Hudson River Farms and trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, seems to have an overwhelming resume for winning the Eclipse Award for Champion Steeplechaser.
Starting for the first time in this country just a few weeks after arriving, Winston C finished third in the Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle Stakes at Iroquois and was then given time off to recuperate from a hard winter of racing in England that had left him thin and with s dull coat.
Winston C then proceeded to to win both the G1 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths and the G1 New York Turf Writers by 8 3/4. lengths.
He was fourth in his final race of the year, the G1 Lonesome Glory, in which he was kept covered up and blocked by the other jockeys and pushed into a cone on the final turn.
Scorpiance won the G1 Calvin Houghland Iroquios Stakes in May, was fifth behind Winston C in the G1 Lonesome Glory and second in the G1 Grand National Hurdle Stakes in October.G1
The third finalist, Brain Power (Ire), only ran in one race in this country, the G1 Grand National, the richest race of the year, but that was his only start in this country, and it seems unlikely that a horse that has only started once in this country would be voted in as Champion.
Sheppard, who was Leading Trainer many, many times in his illustrious career, had a great year saddling steeplechasers and finished second Leading Trainer to Jack Fisher.
Not only does Winston C deserve the Eclipse Award, it would be another well deserved feather in the cap for Sheppard.
GEORGE STRAWBRIDGE was one of three nominated as Breeder of the Year, having bred Bricks and Mortar, who is the favorite to take Horse of the Year honors and well as the Male Turf Horse Eclipse Award.
By Giant's Causeway out of Beyond the Waves, by Ocean Crest, Strawbridge sold Bricks and Mortar as a yearling at Keeneland for $200,000.
Bricks and Mortar went on to run a perfect six wins from six starts in 2019, including winning the G1 Breeders' Cup Turf.
Mitole and Maximum Security are the other two finalists in Horse of the Year, and Bricks and Mortar appears to be a shoo-in for Turf Horse honors over Mo Forza and World of Trouble.
Calumet Farm and Godolphin are the other two finalists for Champion Breeder.
British Idiom, by the Pennsylvania sire Flashback, who stands at Diamond B Farm, is one of three nominated to be 2-Year-Old Filly champion, along with Bast and Sharing.
British Idiom has a perfect three for three wins, starting with a Maiden Special Weight at Saratoga, then the G1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland and finishing with a win in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Bast was third in the Breeders' Cup bu won the G1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes, the G1 Chandelier Stakes and the G1 Starlet Stakes, while Sharing was three for four, wining her second Maiden race, thhe Selima Stakes and the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.