Alex and JoAnn Lieblong's The Big Beast , who finished second in a pair of grade I sprints in 2015 at Saratoga Race Course, was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
The son of Yes It's True, who in 2014 captured the Ketel One King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, was bred by Ron and Carolyn Green's Green Willow Farm. The Big Beast also took top honors as champion older male and champion sprinter.
The richest Maryland-bred runner of 2015, The Big Beast had an abbreviated four-start 4-year-old season. His sole win was a six-furlong allowance at Oaklawn Park March 1 after a nearly seven-month layoff, his first start since his King's Bishop score the previous August.
Trained by Tony Dutrow, The Big Beast battled Rock Fall in the six-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I), missing by a nose, and followed with a runner-up effort 28 days later to Private Zone in the Priority One Jets Forego Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs. The 2014 Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old, he is the only champion in the class of 2015 to have earned a previous title.
Foaled at Green Willow Farm near Westminster, Md., The Big Beast is out of the stakes-placed Deputy Minister mare V V S Flawless. Retired to the breeding shed, he is now standing his first season at Ocala Stud in Ocala, Fla.
Other divisional champions follow:
Champion 3-year-old male: Noteworthy Peach (b.g., 2012, Read the Footnotes—One Green Peach, by In Case). Bred by William M. Steinbuch Jr.; owned by Non Stop Stable; trained by Gary Capuano.
Champion 3-year-old filly: Mayla (b.f., 2012, Sharp Humor—Fifteen Moons, by Malibu Moon ). Bred by Country Life Farm and Fifteen Moons LLC; owned by Carl R. Moore Management and Brad Grady; trained by W. Bret Calhoun.
Champion older female: Kiss to Remember (ch.m., 2011, Big Brown —Taft Lil Queen, by Irish Open). Bred by Big Brown Syndicate and Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes; owned by Miller Racing LLC; trained by Martin D. Wolfson.
Champion steeplechaser: Grinding Speed (gr./ro.g., 2006, Grindstone—Cozelia, by Cozzene). Bred by Alan S. Kline, Mark T. Kline, Mitchell A. Kline and Madeline R. Kline; owned by Michael Wharton; trained by Alicia Murphy.