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Dec 31, 2009

Next week marks some Eclipse revelations

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Anticipation continues to mount for the announcement on January 18 of the 2009 Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills. The contest for the top honor in thoroughbred racing is expected to come down to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Zenyatta and Preakness champ Rachel Alexandra.

Before the ceremony, however, next Wednesday the finalists for all the Eclipse Awards will be revealed. Normally there are three finalists for each of the categories.

It is expected that there will be two unanimous selections involving the two females who have dominated this year's headline. Zenyatta should easily repeat as champion older female and Rachel Alexandra can be expected to be champion three-year-old filly.

Champion three-year-old male will come down to Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Summer Bird, Kentucky Derby champ Mine That Bird and sprinter Zensational.

The older male thoroughbred, in a weak year, is a contest between Arlington Million winner Gio Ponti, Santa Anita Handicap champ Einstein and Stephen Foster winner Macho Again.

Gio Ponti, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Classic, is the leading contender for champion male turf runner. Of course, Conduit won the Breeders' Cup Turf for the second straight year and United Nations champ Presious Passion are contenders.

Zensational leads the sprinters along with Breeders' Cup champ Dancing in Silks and Fabulous Strike.

In the female turf category, 2008 champ Forever Together has an excellent chance to repeat. She should be joined as a finalist by two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare champ Midday.

The last major group, for this column, is Female Sprinter. Breeders' Cup winner Informed Decision is the one to beat. Other possible finalists are multiple stakes winner Game Face and Evita Argentina.

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