The nominees for Horse of the Year include Lexington-based Charlie Lopresti’s six-year-old Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Wise Dan, four-year-old Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Churchill Downs-based Fort Larned, and three-year-old Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. Fort Larned and Wise Dan are also in the running for Champion Older Male while I’ll Have Another is a nominee for Three-Year-Old Champion. Wise Dan grabbed a third nomination this year for Male Turf Champion.
In the days and weeks leading up to Saturday’s announcement, many voting members announced their selections via Facebook, Twitter, and various racing news outlets. One much discussed candidate was missing from the nominees for Horse of the Year—the Dale Romans’ trained Little Mike. Little Mike won the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Arlington Million, and the Grade 1 Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He did receive nominations for Male Turf Champion and Champion Older Male, but was snubbed as overall champion.
Dale Romans, who had his best professional year in over 25 years as a horse trainer, is not only nominated for Trainer of the Year, but has trainees nominated in four categories: Little Mike for Male Turf Champion and Champion Older Male, Tapitsfly for Female Turf Champion, and Shackleford for Champion Male Sprinter.
“It would be an honor to win, but there’s a lot of good people out there,” said Romans in November when Little Mike and other locally-based Breeders’ Cup winners were honored at Churchill Downs. “We’ve won some major—there’s grade ones, then there’s major grade ones—and we’ve won a few of those major grade ones this year. It would be a nice honor.”
The full list of nominees for each category appears below in alphabetical order: