SI’s ‘Sportsman of the Year’ vote shows battle between Royals and American Pharoah

(L) The Kansas City Royals celebrate during the team's World Series rally and (R) Jockey Victor Espinoza celebrates after riding American Pharoah #4 to victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Each year since its inception in 1954, Sports Illustrated has given a "Sportsman of the Year" award to "the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement."

There are numerous candidates worthy of the honor this year, including sports superstars Jordan Spieth, Ronda Rousey, Stephen Curry and Carli Lloyd. But if the early SI.com reader voting is any indication, it’s coming down to a clear-cut two-horse race between the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals and horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978, American Pharoah.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course. But by virtue of his appearance on the ballot, SI is saying that an equine is indeed eligible for Sportsman of the Year.

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Though when Secretariat dominated the Triple Crown races back in 1973, Formula One champion Jackie Stewart won Sportsman of the Year — the only time an auto racer took home the honor.

As of this writing, American Pharoah and the Royals are neck-and-neck going into the stretch with 36% of the votes (with balloting for 12 candidates total) apiece. The runners-up are Lloyd and Curry with 5% each.

Though if previous voting adventures are any indicator — the monstrous push for the Royals on the 2015 American All-Star Team, for instance — Kansas City fans will slam the ballots pretty hard for their team.

Ultimately, however, the selection falls to Sports Illustrated’s editors, who will reveal their selection next month. Will the editors heed the readers’ directive?

This feels like the right place to end:

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