The Eclipse Award for jockeys is almost as tough as it was for trainers. The winner will definitely be named Ortiz but the question is, which one? Irad Jr. or Jose? At first glance, Irad is the leader in total earnings and wins. That combination is usually more than enough. However, when you look at graded stakes wins, a different picture emerges. Jose won the most graded races (35) for the year while Irad triumphed in 30. Then, when you narrow it down further to Grade 1s, Mike Smith won 13, Joel Rosario took 12 and Jose captured 10. Irad was tied for seventh place with six Grade 1 victories. So, the numbers are jumbled and I am forced to go with the “eye” test. In this case, I have to go with Jose, who was sensational all year. He was spot on in the big races and has become a rider without weakness, able to handle any surface or distance. It’s close but I am going with: 1) Jose Ortiz 2) Irad Ortiz Jr. and 3) Mike Smith. The Eclipse Award for owners is complicated by the multi-layered partnership arrangements now in vogue. Instead of competing against each other, many have joined forces. What makes it even more confusing is that a horse may run with different owner silks in different races, so there is not always the visual connection of horse and owner silks that we used to have. I voted for: 1) WinStar, China Horse Club, Starlight Stables and Head of Plains 2) Peter Brant 3) Hronis Racing. Ignoring the one-race-in-America international horses leaves me with very few choices in the male turf horse category. Luckily, turf sprinting has some a long way and STORMY LIBERAL finished the season with four straight wins, including another Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) victory, to nose out the competition. With those explanations out of the way, here is my complete ballot: HORSE OF THE YEAR

  • Justify
  • Accelerate
  • Monomoy Girl
TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE
  • Game Winner
  • Call Paul
  • Complexity
TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY
  • Jaywalk
  • Newspaperofrecord
  • Bellafina
 THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE
  • Justify
  • Catholic Boy
  • McKinzie
THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY
  • Monomoy Girl
  • Midnight Bisou
  • Rushing Fall
OLDER DIRT MALE
  • Accelerate
  • City of Light
  • Diversify
OLDER DIRT FEMALE
  • Unique Bella
  • Abel Tasman
  • Marley’s Freedom
MALE SPRINTER
  • Roy H
  • Promises Fulfilled
  • Imperial Hint
FEMALE SPRINTER
  • Marley’s Freedom
  • Shamrock Rose
  • Dream Tree
MALE TURF HORSE
  • Stormy Liberal
  • Catapult
  • Glorious Empire
FEMALE TURF HORSE
  • Sister Charlie
  • A Raving Beauty
  • Uni
STEEPLECHASE HORSE
  • Optimus Prime
  • Zanjabeel
  • Balance the Budget
OWNER
  • WinStar, China Horse Club, Starlight Stables, Head of Plains
  • Peter Brant
  • Hronis Racing
BREEDER
  • John Gunther
  • Hertrich & Fielding
  • Stonestreet
JOCKEY
  • Jose Ortiz
  • Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Mike Smith
APPRENTICE JOCKEY
  • Weston Hamilton
  • Reylu Gutierrez
  • Edgar Morales
TRAINER
  • Bob Baffert
  • Chad Brown
  • Steve Asmussen
Photo: Brother jockeys Jose Ortiz (left) and Irad Ortiz Jr. (right) (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Adam Mooshian