The nominees for steeplechasing''s Eclipse Award have been announced, and, while which of the three nominees will be the winner is still to be decided, the name of the winning owner is not, it will be Bruton Street-US.
This is the first time in history, at least in so far as The Horse's research has uncovered, that one owner has had all three nominees - quite a fantastic feat.
Nominees are Moscato (GB) and Snap Decision, both trained by Jack Fisher, and Rashaan (Ire), trained by Leslie Young.
'We were very fortunate," said Charlie Fenwick, who along with Mike Hankin and Charlie Noell are partners in Bruton Street-US. "Certainly these three horses are among the best we've ever owned."
This will be Bruton Street-US' second Eclipse Award, having previously won in 2017 with Scorpiancer, also trained by Fisher.
"All three of these horses appeared in a year when racing was compromised by Covid," said Fenwick. "It will be fun if we could establish them in a year of regular racing."
The Eclipse Award is recognition, and it's nice to be recognized," said Fenwick. "But you're only as good as your last race, so it's more about where we go from here."
BOTH FENWICK and Fisher feel that Moscato should be the winner, and if that's the case, this would be Fisher's fourth Eclipse Award.
"What matters to me about winning the Eclipse Award is to have the owners win it," said Fisher. "Bruton Street has put so much into racing. The other thing is that Bruton Street spreads their horses out. They have horses with a number of different trainers, and I think that's good."
Fisher's previous winners were Good Night Shirt, in 2007 and 2008, and Scorpiancer in 2017.
As to their relative merits, Fisher said, "Good Night Shirt won eight G1 stakes in a row, so that's huge, but Moscato and Scorpiancer are about on a par."
"All three are very different horses," said Hankin of Moscato, Rashaan and Snap Decision. "Snap Decision is an unusual horse, even though he's still a novice. He won seven in a row including two at Saratoga. We just thrilled with Rashaan. Leslie did a great job with him. Each of them is an impressive animal."
"Moscato will have a little time off now," said Hankin. "He has a bit of a leg. But the others will start in the spring hopefully. It's critical that the steeplechase meets put on their races. We're doing what we can to help steeplechasing. We're one of the sponsors of the live streaming of races. It's important to keep racing going, so we stepped up to do what we can."
"Jack cares a lot about the sport," said Hankin. "But we have horses with other trainers, too, with Todd Wyatt, William Dowling and Elizabeth Voss. We're all in this together."
"It's very exciting to have a horse that's a nominee," said Young. This is our second horse to be nominated. We had Gustavian in 2013 when Divine Fortune won."
"I'm sure the judges will go with money earned, so I think Moscato will win," said Young. "Moscato won both at Middleburg (the G3 Temple Gwathmey) and the A.P. Smithwick, but I hope that they see that our horse ran a really superb race in the Turf Writers. I'm so appreciative that Bruton Street bought him for us. Having a horse nominated to the Eclipse Award is what everyone dreams of."
Moscato won a G1 and a G3 and was third in the Turf Writers to win $100,000, while Rashann was third in the Temple Gwathmey and won the Turf Writers fora total of $65,000.
"In Snap Decision's races, he didn't beat horses of the same quality as did Moscato and Rashaan," said Fenwick of the now 7-year-old gelding who raced only in novice races last year. "He has a half-sister, Vigilantes Way, who's trained by Shug McGaughey, who has won a minor stake, and they're very high on her. That shows you how important pedigree is."
"The key thing for the future is that it is critical to keep steeplechase racing going, even if that means that the purses are worth only one quarter of what they've been," said Fenwick. "I'm sure that those who love racing will step up. We had a schooling session at Shawan Downs last fall, and I was surprised by the steeplechasing community's support."
"NSA is having a zoom meeting next week to discuss the future," said Fisher, who is president of the Teple Swathmey Steeplechasing Foundation. "As to the races we've lost so far, Aiken canceled because they're moving their track and it's not ready, and Foxfield went out on a limb last year and lost a lot of money. The other meets have some backlog of money."
"The Manor and the Grand National will go," said Fisher. "We're working with the state on attendance. We''d like to do 50 percent. We have plenty of acreage to do that. Last year the Manor was sold out before it had to be canceled. We offered ticket holders the option of getting their money back or giving it as a donation, and 60 percent gave it as a donation. So a lot of races have money left over from last year."