In seven races in Europe in 2002, all Mineshaft was able to do was break his maiden in a one-mile turf race at Newmarket in England. The final two starts of his 3-year-old campaign produced victories in allowance company in the United States, and they were much more indicative of things to come. The son of A. P. Indy went on to win 10 of 18 lifetime starts before being retired and on Monday was named Horse of the Year and champion handicap horse for 2003.
Action This Day didn't get into serious action for an Eclipse Award until the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). But when he did, there was no stopping him in his first added-money start. The son of Kris S. charged through the Santa Anita stretch to win North America's richest race for 2-year-olds for owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Richard Mandella.
When she drew the outside post in the 14-winner's field for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), there were some handicappers who thought that would be enough to stop the unbeaten streak of Halfbridled.
Eclipse Award voting has become extremely subjective in recent years. Because of several factors, such as shortened campaigns and the lack of a standout performer over a period of time, voters often have little in the way of ammunition when it comes time to crown a worthy champion. So, they must turn to intangibles.
The crowning achievement of Bird Town's 3-year-old campaign began with a dose of bad luck. When the gates sprang open for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on May 2, the Marylou Whitney homebred stumbled, and the confirmed front-running filly was 11th in the field of 12. The slower-than-usual start, however, helped turn her into a lioness in front of a national audience in deep stretch as the daughter of Cape Town ran to victory in an unforgettably powerful performance.
She is so much more than Queen for a Day. Actually, she is now even more than Queen for a Year. Azeri', 2002's champion older female and Horse of the Year, made a successful case for an encore presentation among older distaffers, and will keep the champion older female trophy for her work in 2003.
Aldebaran was the bridesmaid no longer in 2003. The son of Mr. Prospector, who finished second six times in eight starts in 2002, proved fully capable of reaching the winner's circle in 2003 and earned the Eclipse Award for champion sprinter in the process with five graded stakes wins in eight starts.
High Chaparral (IRE) is an outstanding example of trainer Aidan O'Brien's ability to put the right horse in the right place. The son of Sadler's Wells made only 13 starts in his three years at the track. He won 10 of those starts, including six group or grade I races, and never finished worse than third. In 2003, High Chaparral raced only four times -- two of those outings resulted in grade or group I victories.
After dominating the 3-year-old female division in Europe in 2002, and challenging the best that continent had to offer in 2003 -- both male and female -- Islington (IRE) shipped to the United States for a return engagement in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) where she registered a neck victory over fellow Irish-bred L'Ancresse. That one win, along with topping the final poll of the Filly & Mare Turf World Thoroughbred Rankings at 120 pounds, was enough to secure the daughter of Sadler's Wells an Eclipse Award as the top turf female of 2003.
Juddmonte Farms added to its growing collection of Eclipse statuettes with a second trophy for being North AmericaÕs leading owner. Juddmonte, owned by 66-year-old Prince Khalid Abdullah, has won four Eclipse Awards for top breederÑin 1995, 2001, 2002, and 2003Ñas well as the Eclipse for top owner in 1992 and 2003. As an owner in 2003, Juddmonte had 33 winners from 122 starts and earnings of $6,265,030 to rank third in North America.
If the goal is to breed graded stakes winners, and it is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with that goal, then Juddmonte Farms was the wagering favorite to win its third consecutive Eclipse Award as the outstanding breeder of 2003.
By all accounts, 2002 was Bobby Frankel's year. He had 60 stakes wins from January to December, $17,748,340 in earnings, won 24% of all his races, trained two Eclipse Award finalists, and earned an Eclipse himself. Then came 2003.
Jerry Bailey is racing's version of Starship Enterprise Capt. James T. Kirk, boldly going where no man has gone before. In 2003, he won more stakes (70) in one year than any other rider in history, and his mounts set a single-season earnings mark of $23,354,960. Bailey also established another riding record when he scored his 14th victory in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships while guiding Six Perfections to the wire first in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
While working in Los Santos, Panama, Eddie Castro had to make a big decision. Would he continue attending night school to become an electrician or would he concentrate full time on racehorse riding and move to the United States? The 18-year-old chose to continue riding and now is an Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey.
A piano player touches the keys to make music. Elton John makes the keys sing. A quarterback throws the football. Peyton Manning makes the football go places. A steeplechase winner's runs and jumps. McDynamo floats. He's better than other horses. A master.
Fire Slam, winner of the grade III $100,000 Lecomte Stakes Saturday at Fair Grounds, will get a short break to heal a quarter crack in his left hind foot, and will be trained up to the grade II, $600,000 Louisiana Derby on March 7, skipping the grade III Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 15.
Due to inclement weather, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association's annual stallion season auction has been rescheduled for Tuesday, February 10, and Wednesday, February 11.
A Siphon colt turned in the fastest quarter-mile work Monday during the first under tack show for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's February select sale of 2-year-olds in training. He covered the distance in :21 3/5 at Calder Race Course in Florida.
Millionaire Astra produced her first foal, a Giant's Causeway filly, Jan. 15 for Allen E. Paulson Living Trust and Liberty Road Stables.
- By Tom Precious
Just a month before he proposed a dramatic expansion of gambling with video lottery terminals across the state, New York Gov. George Pataki told a state appeals court the devices would be limited to racetracks under a 2001 law.
- By Victor Ryan
The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association notified its membership of its agenda for the upcoming Kentucky legislative session during a Jan. 23 meeting at the Keeneland sales pavilion.
Consignors will miss July sale, but support Keeneland's decision not to hold it this year.
- By Mark Popham
The record-breaking media deal agreed up in June 2001 by the majority of Great Britain's racecourses and broadcaster attheraces has collapsed.
The 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victory by Funny Cide was voted the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Moment of the Year, officials said. It was one of 10 "moments" on the ballot.
Kinghaven Farms, one of Canada's most successful nurseries, is shutting down its Thoroughbred operation. But owner David Willmot is not getting out of the breeding business.
Mike Gill, the biggest spender at Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Calder auction in 2002 and 2003, doesn't plan to shop there for 2-year-olds this year. He also doesn't plan to buy any horses at Fasig-Tipton Florida's Calder auction, where he was the biggest spender in 2003 and the third-leading spender in 2002.
Bay Head King, a multiple stakes-placed son of Saint Ballado, will enter stud at Dr. Leonard Blach's Buena Suerte Equine near Roswell, N.M.
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