If Bayern or California Chrome win the highest honor, it will be the first time since Curlin’s win in 2007 that a sophomore was named Horse of the Year.
— Thoroughbred Daily News

Gulfstream Park | 17 January 2015

The finalists for the 2014 Eclipse Awards to be staged 17 January at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, have been announced by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. It came as no surprise that GI Breeders' Cup Classic hero Bayern (Offlee Wild), GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) and GI Breeders' Cup Turf winner Main Sequence (Aldebaran) were named as the top three finalists for the coveted Horse of the Year title.

After failing to fire in the Preakness, Kaleem Shah's Bayern dominated in Belmont's GII Woody Stephens Stakes on 7 June and proved those who doubted his ability to route wrong with a 7 1/4-length win in the 1 1/8-mile GI Haskell Invitational Stakes 27 July. Turning in another head scratcher when 10th as the favorite in the GI Travers Stakes 23 August, the bay romped once again in the GII Pennsylvania Derby prior to his controversial victory in the Classic.

Dazzling in both the GII San Felipe Stakes 8 March and GI Santa Anita Derby 5 April, California Chrome became the people's horse after capturing the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Off the board in both the GI Belmont Stakes 7 June and the Pennsylvania Derby, the flashy chestnut rebounded with a valiant third in the Classic and boosted his chances for a championship with an easy win on the turf in Del Mar's GI Hollywood Derby 29 November.

If Bayern or California Chrome win the highest honor, it will be the first time since Curlin's win in 2007 that a sophomore was named Horse of the Year. The pair also join last year's champion juvenile Shared Belief (Candy Ride), who beat older foes in both the GI Pacific Classic 24 August and the GI Awesome Again Stakes 27 September, in the 3-year-old male category.

Opening his account with four straight wins in England in 2012, Main Sequence did not see the winner's circle again until this year when he was sent to U.S.-based conditioner Graham Motion. The strapping chestnut has lit up the turf on these shores with four consecutive Grade I victories in Monmouth Park's GI United Nations Stakes 6 July, Saratoga's GI Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes 17 August, Belmont's GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes 27 September and the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita 1 November. The Flaxman Holdings homebred is also a finalist for older male and turf male.

The 2014 Eclipse Awards finalists (in alphabetical order) are: 

Horse of the Year:
Bayern, California Chrome, Main Sequence

Two-Year-Old Male:
American Pharoah, Hootenanny, Texas Red

Two-Year-Old Filly:
Condo Commando, Lady Eli, Take Charge Brandi

Three-Year-Old Male:
Bayern, California Chrome, Shared Belief

Three-Year-Old Filly:
Stopchargingmaria, Sweet Reason, Untapable

Older Male:
Main Sequence, Palace Malice, Wise Dan

Older Female:
Close Hatches, Dayatthespa, Don’t Tell Sophia

Male Sprinter:
Goldencents, Private Zone, Work All Week

Female Sprinter:
Artemis Agrotera, Judy the Beauty, Sweet Reason

Male Turf Horse:
Karakontie (JPN), Main Sequence, Wise Dan

Female Turf Horse:
Crown Queen, Dayatthespa, Stephanie’s Kitten

Steeplechase Horse:
Demonstrative, Divine Fortune, Makari (GB)

Kaleem Shah, Midwest Thoroughbreds, Ken and Sarah Ramsey

Adena Springs, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Winchell Thoroughbreds

Bob Baffert, Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher

Javier Castellano, Joel Rosario, John Velazquez

Apprentice Jockey:
Angel Cruz, Taylor Rice, Drayden Van Dyke

Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News