Derby, Breeders’ Cup champ Authentic named 2020 Horse of the Year

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Bob Baffert’s 2020 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic was named the 2020 Horse of the Year in a virtual ceremony for the 50th Eclipse Awards on Jan. 28.

He also took home the Champion 3-Year-Old Male crown. Authentic was retired to stud at Spendthrift Farm in November of 2020. When he raced, he was trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, ridden by John Velazquez and owned by a partnership between Spendthrift, Madaket Stables, Starlight Racing and MyRacehorse Stable, a website that lets racing fans purchase microshares of racehorses.

Swiss Skydiver, who overtook Authentic to become the sixth filly to win the Preakness Stakes, won Champion 3-Year-Old Filly.

Whitney and Awesome Again winner Improbable picked up the award for Older Dirt Male, beating out Vekoma and the infamous Maximum Security. Improbable was most recently second to his Baffert stablemate Authentic in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff champ Monomoy Girl won in the Older Dirt Female category. The 6-year-old mare is unbeaten in her four starts since returning from an 18-month layoff. Her trainer Brad Cox won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer.

Essential Quality, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his third start ever, was named Champion 2-Year-Old Male. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Vequist was the Champion 2-Year-Old Filly.

Old man Whitmore won the Male Sprinter division after finally claiming the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in his fourth try. Baffert’s youngster Gamine was Champion Female Sprinter.

Bill Mott’s Channel Maker was Champion Male Turf Horse, and Chad Brown’s Rushing Fall won the female division.

Irad Ortiz Jr. threepeated in the Outstanding Jockey category, and Alexander Crispin took home Outstanding Apprentice Jockey.

WinStar Farm was named Outstanding Breeder, and Godolphin won Outstanding Owner.

2020 Eclipse Awards Finalists (winner in bold):

Horse of the Year: Authentic, Improbable, Monomoy Girl

2-Year-Old Male: Essential Quality, Fire At Will, Jackie’s Warrior

2-Year-Old Filly: Aunt Pearl, Dayoutoftheoffice, Vequist

3-Year-Old Male: Authentic, Nadal, Tiz the Law

3-Year-Old Filly: Gamine, Shedaresthedevil, Swiss Skydiver

Older Dirt Male: Improbable, Maximum Security, Vekoma

Older Dirt Female: Midnight Bisou, Monomoy Girl, Serengeti Empress

Male Sprinter: Vekoma, Volatile, Whitmore

Female Sprinter: Gamine, Glass Slippers, Serengeti Empress

Male Turf Horse: Channel Maker, Order of Australia, Zulu Alpha

Female Turf Horse: Audarya, Rushing Fall, Tarnawa

Steeplechase Horse: Moscato, Rashaan, Snap Decision

Owner: Godolphin, Klaravich Stables, partnership of Spendthrift Farm, MyRacehorse Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing

Breeder: Calumet Farm, Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, WinStar Farm

Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Brad Cox

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr., Joel Rosario, John Velazquez

Apprentice Jockey: Luis Cardenas, Yarmarie Correa, Alexander Crispin

The Eclipse Awards are named for Eclipse, a legendary 18th-century British racehorse who went 18-for-18 in his two-year career. His pedigree married two of the three Thoroughbred foundation stallions—the Godolphin Arabian and the Darley Arabian—and Eclipse can be found deep in the pedigrees of many of today’s racehorses.

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Arabian Knight earns Baffert record 6th win in Southwest

Betway Challow Hurdle Day - Newbury Racecourse
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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arabian Knight won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record sixth victory in the race.

The colt came into the Kentucky Derby prep as one of the most highly touted 3-year-olds in the country. Arabian Knight, who was purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, was making his second career start and first on a sloppy track in front of 27,000 fans in Arkansas.

“These good horses are hard to come by,” said Baffert, who was on hand in Hot Springs. “We’ve had a lot of luck here at Oaklawn, so it was nice to have a horse like this.”

However, Arabian Knight was ineligible to earn the Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the winner because Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The penalty, which ends shortly after this year’s Derby on May 6, stems from Medina Spirit’s medication violation after the colt won the 2021 Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert is challenging the ban in court.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $2.80 to win. He is 2-0 and has career earnings of $544,275.

“He ran 1:43 and change, that’s racehorse time and he did it without taking a deep breath,” Baffert said. “This was a big effort.”

Red Route One closed from last to finish second, and Frosted Departure was third. Sun Thunder was fourth, followed by Jace’s Road, Corona Bolt, El Tomate and Western Ghent.

At Gulfstream in Florida, Baffert’s entry Defunded finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths by Art Collector on Saturday.