In the early evening of June 6, 2015, with more than half of the thoroughbred racing season still to go, the contest for 2015 Horse of the Year was over. It didnt matter what American Pharoah would do, or not do, from that point forward. After becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years, there wasnt any doubt whatsoever, even with so many important races yet to be decided, that American Pharoah had clinched Horse of the Year honors.In truth, 2015 was an aberration, because youre just not supposed to know the Horse of the Year that early. This, not surprisingly, is a very different year.(American Pharoah, of course, also accomplished very important things after his Triple Crown, romping in the Haskell and Breeders Cup Classic.)This 2016 racing season, while different, is actually unfolding in a totally conventional manner. At this point, some divisions seem crystal clear, while others are there for the taking. And Horse of the Year is far from settled, which adds an extra layer of intrigue to each weekends major stakes events.Last week, Songbird shipped all the way east for the first time to compete in Saratogas Coaching Club American Oaks and crushed Carina Mia, arguably the second-best 3-year-old filly in the country, to extend her unbeaten streak to nine. In the process, Songbirds lead for the championship of her division, already very large, likely became insurmountable.Also last week, California Chrome made a successful return to U.S. racing at Del Mar with a thrilling victory in the San Diego Handicap. California Chrome is arguably the current leader for Horse of the Year and top older dirt male on the strength of his powerful victory in the Dubai World Cup.However, the Dubai Cup was run half a world away, and California Chromes two victories this year on these shores came in Grade 2 races. So while merely winning last week means he lost nothing in terms of Eclipse Award position, the above combined with the fact that Dortmund gave him everything he wanted in the San Diego says California Chrome hasnt clinched anything yet.There are major championship considerations at stake this weekend, too. The amazing Beholder, already a three-time Eclipse Award winner, again meets last years champion 3-year-old filly, Stellar Wind, in Saturdays Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar. Beholder toyed with Stellar Wind in last months Grade 1 Vanity, and if she wins again (shes going for her ninth straight score), Beholder will make it only more difficult to overtake her in the older female division while enhancing her very live Horse of the Year candidacy.On Saturday at Saratoga, Flintshire -- whose victory in the Grade 1 Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard in his only start this year was so impressive that it made him the clear leader in the male turf division -- goes in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes. Flintshire is in a tricky spot. He is an absolute layover on paper, and if he doesnt win, and win big, it could hurt his title position, even if the Bowling Green is only a bridge to bigger and better races.But perhaps the biggest Eclipse Award implications this weekend involve the 3-year-old male division, in the Grade 1 Haskell Sunday at Monmouth Park and in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, also Saturday at Saratoga and the local springboard to the critical Travers Stakes on Aug. 27.The Jim Dandy came up very salty with Creator and Destin, just a nose apart when first and second in the Belmont Stakes, and Mohaymen, who was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby until Nyquist handed him his first defeat in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.However, as solid as the Jim Dandy is, the Haskell carries greater importance. This Haskell is being billed as a renewal of the rivalry between Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator, a meeting made possible by the surprising and abrupt rerouting of Exaggerator from Saratoga to Monmouth. But Im not sure it is as much of a rivalry right now as the public relations folks would have you think.Exaggerator was 0-for-3 against Nyquist before finally getting the best of him in the Preakness, but an ugly 11th as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes (a race Nyquist missed due to illness) served to refocus the spotlight on the questions Exaggerator must address.Simply put, Exaggerator must prove he is not a creation of wet tracks and incredibly favorable pace setups. The three best races Nyquist ever ran, and by a long way, were his wins in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and Preakness and his second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby. The thing is, Exaggerator caught wet tracks in those outings -- the official track condition for the Kentucky Derby was fast, but a heavy rainstorm right before the race left standing water in spots. And perhaps even more important, all three of those races featured scorching early paces that favored Exaggerators late kick. Exaggerator got neither a wet track nor a fast pace in the Belmont, and the result was not pretty.Nyquist has no such questions to address. Even though last years champion 2-year-old male lost for the first time in the Preakness after winning the first eight starts of his career, people are wisely not holding that defeat against him. Handicappers know that the outcome of the Preakness might have been very different had Nyquist not foolishly and needlessly been involved in a senseless early speed duel, and they give him credit for finishing as well as third. Moreover, Nyquists game try was certainly no surprise because he was on top of that very fast early pace in the Kentucky Derby -- the pace that set up so well for Exaggerator -- and still won decisively.The 3-year-old male division still goes through Nyquist, and he could take a huge step toward locking up another divisional title with a win in the Haskell. http://www.jetsrookiestore.com/Jets-Ben-Ijalana-Jersey/ . NBA officials ruled the court unplayable in the Bucks final exhibition game on Oct. 25 because players were slipping, and the game was cancelled midway through the first period. http://www.jetsrookiestore.com/Jets-Julian-Howsare-Jersey/ . Denis Coderre, the former federal MP who was elected mayor on Nov. 3, has drawn the ire of some Montreal Canadiens. During last nights game he tweeted: "Hello? Can we get a one-way ticket to (minor-league) Hamilton for David Desharnais please. http://www.jetsrookiestore.com/Jets-Bryce-Petty-Jersey/ . The injury bothered Bledsoe in the Suns victory over the Clippers on Monday and he sat out the teams home loss to Memphis on Thursday night. http://www.jetsrookiestore.com/Jets-Wayne-Chrebet-Jersey/ . 8 Kansas to a 64-63 win over Texas Tech on Tuesday night. The freshman from Vaughan, Ont. http://www.jetsrookiestore.com/T-Shirts/ . -- There were so many positives from the Orlando Magics first victory of the season that it was hard for coach Jacque Vaughn to stop praising his players. SHANGHAI -- Nick Kyrgios will have to pay $16,500 in fines for his bizarre actions at the Shanghai Masters.The Australian tennis player received one of the largest fines of his career on Thursday for his lack of effort and argumentative behavior during his second-round match. He was fined the maximum $10,000 for showing a lack of best efforts in the match, $5,000 for verbal abuse of a spectator, and $1,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct.Kyrgios rushed through his 6-3, 6-1 loss to German qualifier Mischa Zverev, failing to put any speed on some serves and hitting erratically on his groundstrokes. At one point, he walked toward his chair after floating a serve across the net without even waiting for Zverevs return.Late in the match, Kyrgios also responded angrily to a fan who criticized him by shouting back, You want to come here and play?He was booed and jeered several times.The fiery Kyrgios is known for his on-court tirades and frequent battles with umpires and fans.dddddddddddd. Last year, he also insulted a player, Stan Wawrinka, during a match in Montreal.Kyrgios received $12,500 in fines for his behavior in that match, as well as a possible 28-day suspension and a further $25,000 fine if he picked up any other major offenses over the following six months. That probation period ended in February.Top-ranked Novak Djokovic said on Thursday that Kyrgios has some life lessons to learn.Not many great things are spoken about him lately, Djokovic said. Im sorry to hear that, because I share the opinion of many players and many people in the tennis world that hes one of the greatest talents the game has seen lately.---This story has been corrected to change day from Friday to Thursday. 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