Bricks and Mortar wins Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year

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Bricks and Mortar has been named Horse of the Year, as well as Champion Male Turf Horse, at the 49th Eclipse Awards after an undefeated year. The Chad Brown-trained 6-year-old was sire Giant’s Causeway’s winningest offspring in 2019, earning over $6.7 million in six starts with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.

“We ran him against the best competition we could find,” owner Seth Klarman said as he accepted the Male Turf Horse award early in the night. “He danced every dance.”

Bricks and Mortar’s dominant year comes after a total of 440 days off between October 7, 2017 and December 22, 2018 due to an uncommon neuro-muscular condition in his right hind leg called stringhalt. Brown was told the horse had a 50-50 chance at returning to the same level of racing after corrective surgery.

A month after his return, Bricks and Mortar won the inaugural $3 million Pegasus World Cup Turf by three lengths. He went on to win a G2 handicap at Fair Grounds before picking up three big Grade 1 stakes races: the Old Forrester Turf Classic at Churchill, the Manhattan at Belmont and the Arlington Million. He closed out 2019 with a win in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita in November. Last month, Bricks and Mortar arrived at Shadai Stallion Station in Japan to begin his second career.

The connections of Bricks and Mortar also fared well at the Eclipse Awards. Ortiz Jr. beat out his brother Jose Ortiz for Outstanding Jockey, and Brown took home Outstanding Trainer for the fourth year in a row. Klaravich Stables, Inc. and William H. Lawrence, the partnership behind Bricks and Mortar, claimed Outstanding Owner, and his breeder George Strawbridge Jr. won his respective category as well.

Midnight Bisou was named Champion Older Dirt Female. She won seven of her eight starts in 2019, with her sole loss coming in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Todd Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso won Champion Older Dirt Male.

Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Uni (GB), also trained by Chad Brown, took home Champion Female Turf Horse. Met Mile and Breeders’ Cup Sprint victor Mitole was the Champion Male Sprinter. Crowd favorite and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Covfefe was named Champion Female Sprinter and 3-Year-Old Filly. Three-time Grade 1 winner (and disqualified Kentucky Derby runner) Maximum Security was crowned Champion 3-Year-Old Male.

The Champion 2-Year-Old division went to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner British Idiom for filly and Storm the Court, the 45-1 longshot winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, for male.

The dramatic and historic 2019 Kentucky Derby, which saw Maximum Security disqualified after crossing the Churchill Downs wire first, was the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA)’s Moment of the Year.

In addition to honoring some of horse racing’s best, the NTRA honored retired Thoroughbreds at the Eclipse Awards by showing photos of former racehorses in their new careers as part of the new #NeverEclipsed campaign.

All Eclipse Award finalists (winners in bold): 

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

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.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.