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Eclipse: Funny Cide

Funny Cide outdistanced Empire Maker for top 3-year-old honors in the Eclipse Awards on Monday night, eight months after failing to run his rival down in a bid for the Triple Crown.

Mineshaft's seven wins and more than $2.2-million in earnings made him the easy selection as horse of the year, one of several runaways in the annual voting for thoroughbred racing's most prestigious awards.

No Eclipse category had more intrigue than the 3-year-old male division, where voters had to weigh Funny Cide's emergence as racing's darling against Empire Maker's two wins in the three meetings _ including at the Belmont, denying Funny Cide's shot at racing's first Triple Crown since 1978.

In the end, Funny Cide's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes wins couldn't be ignored, and the gelding owned by Sackatoga Stable collected 150 of 247 votes cast. Empire Maker, the only 3-year-old with three Grade I wins last year, got 92 votes.

Empire Maker's connections _ jockey Jerry Bailey, trainer Bobby Frankel and owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms _ swept Eclipse honors. Bailey became the first rider to win four consecutive jockey awards, extending his record total to seven.

Other winners: Azeri, older female; Action This Day, 2-year-old male; Halfbridled, 2-year-old fillies; Bird Town, 3-year-old fillies; and Aldebaran, sprinter.

Votes were tallied collectively this year for the first time.

Also, Funny Cide's Kentucky Derby win was chosen as racing's 2003 moment of the year in fan balloting conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the horse's owners received the Big Sport of Turfdom Award, given to those who help increase coverage of racing.

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