All three finalists for the Eclipse Award in the steeplechase category were campaigned by 2020’s leading National Steeplechase Association owner. On Jan. 28, we’ll find out whether it’ll be Moscato, Snap Decision, or Rashaan.
NSA Director of Racing’s Bill Gallo had to scratch his head to recall the last time a single owner had three finalists for the Eclipse Award, and came up with a pretty good guess: 2011, when Irv Naylor’s Tax Ruling, Black Jack Blues, and Decoy Daddy vied for the honor. But in a season when the unusual became usual, it’s only fitting that history be made once again.
In 2020, Bruton Street-US, a partnership among friends Michael Hankin, Charlie Fenwick, and Charlie Noell, topped NSA earners with $253,950 in purses. Three horses accounted for the stable’s six wins and all but $1,950 of its earnings.
Moscato, a proven star and the eldest of the trio, captured two of only four open graded hurdle stakes run last season, including the Grade 1 AP Smithwick at Saratoga and the G3 Temple Gwathmey (by 11 ½ lengths) at Middleburg Spring in June. Moscato, trained by Jack Fisher during his three seasons of competition in the U.S., defeated stablemate Rashaan, a relative newcomer on the circuit, trained by Leslie Young, in the Gwathmey. However, Rashaan turned the tables on his stablemate in the longer G1 New York Turf Writers Cup at the Spa in August, while getting a 16-pound break in the weights.
While Moscato and Rashaan duked it out, Snap Decision, the third member of the Bruton Street juggernaut, continued his dominance over novice competition with victories in the Jonathan Kiser and Michael Walsh stakes at the Spa, and the G3 David Semmes Memorial at Great Meadow in June, a race in which he faced neither of his mates. The Semmes was Snap Decision’s first appearance in open company.
So who deserves the honor? Fisher, who also conditions Snap Decision, didn’t hesitate for a second: “Moscato deserves the Eclipse Award. He’s the best horse, a very cool horse who won two stakes.” With equal zest, Fisher added, “Snap can win it this year. We ran him in novice stakes because we had Moscato. The plan for this year is to run him in all the grade ones.” It should be noted that Moscato suffered a leg injury and isn’t expected to return to action until late in 2021.
Meanwhile, co-owner Fenwick was humbled simply by having three horses in the running for the Eclipse Award. “Had the racing season been longer, maybe some other horses might have made good use of the extra opportunities.”
That said, Fenwick noted that he’s “particularly interested” in Snap Decision because his sire, Hard Spun, also sired Fenwick’s now-retired timber champion Doc Cebu.
Additionally, Fenwick offered praise for Rashaan’s trainer. “Leslie Young found Rashaan for us and has done a masterful job training him. Possibly the handicapper didn’t know how good a horse Rashaan was when handicapping the Turf Writers.”
The 50th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, honoring Thoroughbred racing’s champions of 2020, will be held on Thursday, Jan. 28 as a virtual event. Winners in 17 human and equine categories will be announced in a virtual ceremony streamed live on multiple outlets, including TVG and Racetrack Television Network, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.