Bricks and Mortar headlines list of Eclipse Award finalists

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) Bricks and Mortar had a perfect 2019 record and might have a couple more trophies coming his way.

The leading money-winning horse in North America last year headlines the three Eclipse Award finalists for Horse of the Year, to be presented at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 23. Bricks and Mortar, Breeders’ Cup sprint winner Mitole and Maximum Security — the would-have-been winner of the Kentucky Derby — are the Horse of the Year contenders.

Bricks and Mortar went 6 for 6 last year, five of those wins coming in Grade 1 races, and won just over $6.7 million. Bricks and Mortar is also a finalist for Male Turf Horse of the Year, which he’s a lock to win.

“We’ve never had a Horse of the Year,” Bricks and Mortar trainer Chad Brown said late last year. “So if he’s fortunate enough to get that award and for his body of work and for what he’s overcome, all those things go into putting him right at the top as the best we have had.”

Brown is a finalist for top trainer; if he wins, he’ll join Laz Barrera, Todd Pletcher and Bobby Frankel as the only in Eclipse history to claim that trophy four consecutive times.

Bricks and Mortar didn’t race for more than a year because of a ligament problem that required complicated surgery. His road back to the track in December 2018 after a 15-month layoff wasn’t easy.

And really, none of his races since has been easy, either.

Bricks and Mortar rallied in the final strides to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf by a head over 51-1 shot United, which was fitting given how virtually all his races in 2019 were decided at the very end. He started the year with a 2-1/2 length win in the Pegasus World Cup Turf race at Gulfstream — and his next five races were decided by less than three lengths combined.

Mitole won six of seven starts, and Maximum Security won seven of nine starts. Maximum Security crossed the line first in the Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified after stewards ruled that he interfered with several other horses as the lead pack turned for home at Churchill Downs.

Mitole is also a finalist for Older Dirt Male, and Maximum Security is the likely winner of the 3-year-old male trophy.

The full list of finalists:

Horse of the Year: Bricks and Mortar, Maximum Security, Mitole

2-Year-Old Male: Maxfield, Storm the Court, Structor

2-Year-Old Filly: Bast, British Idiom, Sharing

3-Year-Old Male: Code of Honor, Maximum Security, Omaha Beach

3-Year-Old Filly: Covfefe, Guarana, Serengeti Empress

Older Dirt Male: McKinzie, Mitole, Vino Rosso

Older Dirt Female: Blue Prize, Elate, Midnight Bisou

Male Sprinter: Imperial Hint, Mitole, World of Trouble

Female Sprinter: Belvoir Bay, Come Dancing, Covfefe

Male Turf Horse: Bricks and Mortar, Mo Forza, World of Trouble

Female Turf Horse: Got Stormy, Sistercharlie, Uni

Steeplechase Horse: Brain Power, Scorpiancer, Winston C

Owner: Gary Barber, Peter Brant, Klaravich Stables, Inc. and William H. Lawrence

Breeder: Calumet Farm, Godolphin, George Strawbridge Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Brad Cox

Jockey: Javier Castellano, Irad Ortiz, Jr., Jose Ortiz

Apprentice Jockey: Julio Correa, Angel Diaz, Kazushi Kimura

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.