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News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), National Turf Writers Association (NTWA) and Daily Racing Form (DRF) today announced the finalists for the 2008 Eclipse Awards, as voted on and presented by the three organizations, in recognition of excellence in Thoroughbred racing.
Winners in all categories will be announced at the 38th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, to be held Monday evening, January 26, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.
The Eclipse Awards finalists (in alphabetical order) are:
· Two-Year-Old Male: Midshipman, Old Fashioned, Vineyard Haven
· Two-Year-Old Filly: Dream Empress, Maram, Stardom Bound
· Three-Year-Old Male: Big Brown, Colonel John, Raven’s Pass
· Three-Year-Old Filly: Eight Belles, Music Note, Proud Spell
· Older Male: Commentator, Curlin, Einstein (BRZ)
· Older Female: Cocoa Beach (CHI), Ginger Punch, Zenyatta
· Male Sprinter: Benny the Bull, Midnight Lute, Street Boss
· Female Sprinter: Indian Blessing, Intangaroo, Ventura
· Male Turf Horse: Conduit (IRE), Einstein (BRZ), Grand Couturier (GB)
· Female Turf Horse: Cocoa Beach (CHI), Forever Together, Goldikova (IRE)
· Steeplechase Horse: Be Certain, Good Night Shirt, Sovereign Duty
· Owner: Godolphin Racing, IEAH Stables, Stronach Stables
· Breeder: Adena Springs, Stonerside Stable, WinStar Farm
· Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Richard Dutrow, Jr., Bobby Frankel
· Jockey: Robby Albarado, Rafael Bejarano, Garrett Gomez
· Apprentice Jockey: Inez Karlsson, Pascacio Lopez, Abel Mariano

Finalists for Horse of the Year will be announced at the Eclipse Awards ceremony. NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop will present the Horse of the Year trophy to the winning connections at the conclusion of the ceremony.

WinStar Farm millionaire Well Armed, beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, returns to action at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., in Saturday’s 72nd running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap. A field of 12 is set for the mile-and-one-sixteenth event that often serves as a stepping-stone to the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. After running second to Zappa in last year’s San Pasqual, Well Armed became a major force among older horses. He won Santa Anita’s Grade II San Antonio Handicap, traveled to Dubai to finish third behind Curlin in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, took the Grade II Del Mar Handicap, lost by a neck to Go Between in Del Mar’s Grade I Pacific Classic and captured Oak Tree’s Grade I Goodwood Stakes.

Little wonder Well Armed went to the post as the 6-5 favorite in his Breeders’ Cup competition, but a troubled trip – “It was pretty bad,” noted trainer Eoin Harty – resulted in a well-beaten, ninth-place finish. “The rest helped him and he’s been working super,” Harty said of the six-year-old Tiznow gelding’s activity the Breeders’ Cup performance on October 25. Harty, however, is unsure of Well Armed’s future beyond the San Pasqual. In 2008, the conflicting Dubai World Cup trumped the Santa Anita Handicap, which is scheduled for March 7 this season.

“We’ll get him through Saturday’s race,” Harty stated. “We’ll make a plan after this race.” The Kentucky-bred, who began his career in England, will carry high weight of 121 pounds with regular rider Aaron Gryder in the saddle. After winning but two starts in 11 races overseas for earnings of $35,343, Well Armed the last two years has banked $1,495,460 from nine starts including the trip to Dubai.

Marchfield, an A.P. Indy 5-year-old, could provide stiff competition for Well Armed. Marchfield, who will be ridden by top Canadian jockey Patrick Husbands, is coming off the best race of his career, a victory in the Grade II Autumn Stakes at Woodbine Race Course in Toronto on November 9. Mark Casse trains Marchfield for Melnyk Racing Stables.Ball Four, an 8-year-old gelding, is one of two Todd Pletcher trainees entered in the San Pasqual. He has six wins from 23 lifetime starts for earnings of $621,520. He won Keeneland’s Grade III Fayette Stakes last October. Santa Anita newcomer Chris DeCarlo will ride. The New Jersey-native rides first call on Pletcher horses based in New Jersey. The other Pletcher candidate is the four-year-old Cowboy Cal, who finished second in last year’s Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.The complete field for the San Pasqual Handicap, in post position order, is: Mostacolli Mort (jockey: Garrett Gomez); Marchfield (Patrick Husbands); Informed (Michael Baze); Cowboy Cal (John Velazquez); Noble Court (Mike Smith); Past the Point (Rafael Bejarano); Well Armed (Aaron Gryder); Magnum (Martin Pedroza); Blue Exit (no rider); Ball Four (Christopher DeCarlo); Racketeer (Chantal Sutherland); and Slew’s Tizzy (Joel Rosario).


Clarence Scharbauer Jr.’s Indygo Mountain is the 3-1 morning-line favorite among the field of nine 3-year-olds entered for the Grade III, $100,000 Lecomte Stakes, the featured event of a six-stakes program Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.The 65th Lecomte, which starts the Louisiana Derby Series, is the ninth race on an 11-race “Road to the Derby” Kickoff Day program. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Indygo Mountain was scratched during the post parade of a December 18 allowance race at Fair Grounds due to a minor foot problem, but has had a pair of workouts since, including a five-furlong breeze Monday morning at Fair Grounds in 1:03.40 over sloppy going.The son of A. P. Indy won his last start November 19 at Churchill Downs by an impressive 6 1/4-length margin. He was second in his first career start in October at Keeneland.Scharbauer, whose family raced 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba, purchased Indygo Mountain for $600,000 out of the 2007 Keeneland September sale. Jamie Theriot, seeking a second consecutive Fair Grounds riding title, will break Indygo Mountain from the outside post.Capable of providing strong competition for Indygo Mountain is John and Glen Sikura and Dominic Dilalla’s Patena, who captured the Display Stakes at Woodbine by a head in his last trip to the post on December 6. Conditioned by Josie Carroll, Patena is by Seeking the Gold and out of the A. P. Indy mare Handpainted, who was also trained by Carroll and won the 2004 Pan Zareta Stakes at Fair Grounds.Six-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado gets the mount on Patena, who will break from post four and is the 4-1 early second choice.Co-third choices in the morning line at 5-1 are Uno Mas and Friesan Fire, the 1-2 finishers in that one-mile December 18 allowance.Uno Mas, who is 2-for-2 at this meet, gets the services of jockey Shaun Bridgmohan for seven-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the Lecomte last year with Z Fortune.Friesan Fire, who was third in Belmont’s Grade II Futurity on September 13 and fourth in Aqueduct’s Grade III Nashua Stakes on November 2, has Gabriel Saez up for trainer Larry Jones, who saddled 2007 Lecomte winner Hard Spun.From the rail out, the Lecomte field includes: Friesan Fire (jockey: Gabriel Saez, morning line odds: 5-1); Au Moon (Julien Leparoux, 8-1); Citizen (Francisco Torres, 20-1); Patena (Robby Albarado, 4-1); Big Push (Miguel Mena, 8-1); Dynamic Force (Jesse Campbell, 10-1); Professor Z (Brian Hernandez Jr., 6-1); Uno Mas (Shaun Bridgmohan, 5-1); and Indygo Mountain (Jamie Theriot, 3-1).