I don't know for sure but it looks like we're set to witness another travesty at the Eclipse Awards. I may be in the minority in this regard but I think Midnight Lute should absolutely not win the Male Sprinter Eclipse Award.
The emotion evoked from his repeat win in the Breeders' Cup Sprint probably makes him the leading contender for the Sprint Award. Everywhere I look I see sentiment in this division shifting towards him. But does Midnight Lute really deserve the award?
I strongly believe that our year end awards should be grounded in accomplishment. Brilliance ought to be what separates similarly accomplished individuals, it should not be the preeminent factor.
I think if we look at Midnight Lute's accomplishments there is no question that he doesn't measure up. Even if we look at his accomplishments and brilliance he still falls short of divisional leadership. Let's be honest the main reason for the ground swell of support is the fact that he won last year. You think there would have been any chance that Touch Tone could have won the Eclipse in 2002 if he won the Sprint? Most of you will have to consult Google to even recall who Touch Tone was. In 2002 he came into the Breeders' Cup Sprint with a slightly better current season record than the Lute. They both had one start but Touch Tone managed to run third in his effort. Had he won do you think that anyone would support his claims for top Sprinter? Breeders' Cup Sprint winners Cajun Beat, Silver Train and Elmhurst all failed to win the Eclipse and they even had other stakes wins. Touch Tone would not have been considered because he lacked name recognition.
Year End Awards are supposed to be based on what a horse accomplished within that year. Midnight Lute, or a horse with his identical record, would maybe be third in this division without the benefit of a big reputation earned in a previous season. Should we ever reward such an abbreviated season and laud that horse as an example of a champion? In my opinion the answer is clearly, no.
So who does deserve the award? I think the answer is either Benny The Bull or Street Boss. They had the best blend of accomplishments and brilliance over the course of the season. Incidentally Street Boss is the #1 ranked TCR sprinter, Benny The Bull is a close second and Midnight Lute is 5th. Power Rankings, which attempt to measure brilliance, show Benny The Bull in the #1 spot with Midnight Lute #2 and Street Boss 4th.
If you equalize the TCR and the TC Power Rankings the Male Sprinter standings would look like this.
Benny The Bull - 505.01
Street Boss - 414.67
Midnight Lute - 371.00
These are only the conclusions drawn by my in house numbers but realistically anyone could come up with the same conclusion if they just looked at the Past Performances without the names at the top.
Benny the Bull was undefeated in 4 starts over 4 different tracks in Florida New York and Dubai. Street Boss had a solid 9 race campaign with 6 wins and no out of the money finishes. He was the only dual G-1 winner in the division. Midnight Lute had just two starts, a total flop and a big win. The win in the Sprint should count for more than any other single race but does it really count for more than 3 stakes wins at the G-1 and G-2 level?
Midnight Lute is not the deserving Sprint champion. I hope justice is served and the Eclipse voters don't get caught up in the hype.