Rachel Alexandra gets the main prize, but partisan crowd shows admiration for both at the 2009 Eclipse Awards.
Recap all of the Eclipse Award winners with this photo slideshow featuring photos from throughout the 2009 racing season. View Photos
Son of Tale of the Cat dominated the turf division in a season that lacked a main track standout; finished second to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic
Castleton Lyons' homebred won four consecutive grade I turf races, ran second in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
The historic victory by the undefeated Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) -- the first in the race by a female -- has been voted the 2009 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Moment of the Year.
Craig Bandoroff of the Paris, Ky.-based Denali Stud, paid $950,000 for Bon Jovi Girl, a stakes-winning daughter of Malibu Moon at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.
The last day of 2009 found Ramon Dominguez in the same place as the first -- atop the jockey standings and in the winner's circle at Aqueduct.
Beginning Dec. 11 and through Jan. 15, 2010, fans can choose from among five compelling storylines some human, some equine and cast their ballots for NYRA "Story of the Year."
Who should win the Eclipse Award as North America's top older male of 2009? Vote Now!
Gio Ponti, the leading candidate for champion turf male, will stay in training in 2010. Campaigned by Castleton Lyons, he is being pointed to the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in early spring.
Castleton Lyons (Shane Ryan, president) has reduced the fee for Bernstein to $25,000 from $27,500.
- By Tom LaMarra
Zenyatta reclaimed the top spot in the final National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll of 2009.
Zenyatta made it look all too easy, becoming the first female to win the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). Gio Ponti was second and Twice Over third.
If there is one thing you can always count on in the Breeders' Cup it's that it will have it's share of longshot winners and mid-price overlays who get lost in the handicapping frenzy that is so much a part of the event.
On an otherwise routine morning, Lillie Langtry tosses rider and forces trainer to climb aboard.
In looking at the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), several thoughts and angles emerged that could have a bearing on the race. While they may turn out to be mere folly, they are at least worth mentioning just to make sure all bases are covered and there is less of a chance of Monday morning quarterbacking.
There is no way of telling what might have been in any given race had circumstances been different. And it would be seem audacious to say that Rip Van Winkle was the best horse in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I), won by Sea the Stars, but a close look at the race reveals several reasons why that statement might have validity.
A hodgepodge of horses from all walks of life will converge on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride Nov. 7, most of whom would not be a surprise should they win.
If Sea the Stars does not make the trip to California, which seems more likely than not, and joins Rachel Alexandra on the absentee list, it will create a void never before seen in the Breeders' Cup.
Several trainers from the Oct. 3 races at Belmont indicated which way they were leaning for next month's Breeders' Cup.
Elliot Mavorah's Interpatation pulled a shocker in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) and did it in sensational fashion. The 7-year-old gelding was passed by Gio Ponti with a furlong remaining, then re-rallied on the heavy favorite to score a 43-1 upset Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.
Christophe Clement has had many talented stakes winners during his years as one of the nation's leading turf conditioners, but the French-born trainer now admits Gio Ponti may be at the top of that list. On Oct. 3, the 4-year-old son of Tale of the Cat seeks his fifth consecutive grade I grass victory when he lines up for the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park.
A trio of contenders for the Oct. 3 $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) had their final tune-ups for the 1 1/4-mile race on a busy morning at Belmont Park Sept. 26.
In a brief ceremony Sept. 18, representatives of Castleton Lyons presented a check for $29,400 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Champs Elysees is back to defend his title in the $750,000 Northern Dancer Turf Presented by Vtech (Can-IT), but will have to take down a deep field of turf routers Sept. 20 at Woodbine, including Melynk Racing Stables' Marchfield, who defeated the 6-year-old horse last month over the same course.
Trainer Christophe Clement said Aug. 26 that Gio Ponti, winner of four consecutive grade I turf races, will race next in either the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) Oct. 3 at Belmont or the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT) Oct. 11 at Santa Anita in his final prep for the Breeders' Cup World Championships in November.
Lenny and Steve are back! Topics include night racing, breakdowns at Del Mar, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, Gio Ponti, and Bob Baffert's Hall of Fame induction.
Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti notched his fourth consecutive grade I victory Aug. 8 at Arlington Park, as he rolled to a 1 1/4-length win in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) under Ramon Dominguez.
Two of the most prestigious turf races on the North American racing calendar, the Arlington Million and Beverly D., will be aired live Sat., Aug. 8, on ESPN from 4:30-6:00 p.m. ET.
Often times, European horses are the focus of attention in the internationally prestigious Arlington Million (gr. IT). And while the 2009 edition of the race does include three capable foreigners, it is a trio of terrific American horses that are the ones to beat this time around.
Einstein, who stumbled at the start and finished fifth in last year's Arlington Million (gr. IT), drew the inside post for this season's prestigious turf race at Arlington Park, which will be held Aug. 8.
Einstein and Gio Ponti are just two of several talented turf horses considering the Aug. 8 race.
- By Steve Haskin
Not to be a killjoy, but the fact is some of the best horses in the country will not be showing up at the Breeders' Cup this year.
Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti notched his third consecutive grade I win when he came from off the pace to take the $500,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park July 11. The 4-year-old son of Tale of the Cat won for the fourth time in five starts on Belmont's turf course.
Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti, fresh off victories in the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) and Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT), will shoot for his third consecutive grade I score July 11 in the $500,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.
Belmont track announcer Tom Durkin made note of Gio Ponti being at the back of the pack as the field turned down the backside in the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan (gr. IT), but the colt came from last to first to win the race in dramatic fashion.
Cowboy Cal and Champs Elysees, both narrowly beaten by tough-as-nails Einstein in separate grade I races this year, will see if his absence will be enough to get them over the top this time, as they headline a strong field of 14, including five grade I winners, for the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) June 6 at Belmont Park.
Gio Ponti, driving for the wire under a frantic Ramon Dominguez, got up just in time to nose the outstanding mare Ventura in the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita turf March 7.
Ventura, a stylish winner of the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) against her own sex last time out, will take aim at males when she returns to the turf for trainer Bobby Frankel in the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita March 7.
Cowboy Cal is headed to the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in one month following his hard-fought win in the $250,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 7.
Weather played an unexpected role when turf standout Gio Ponti won the Dec. 26 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. III), a race transferred from the grass to Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface. Given a freshening since then, he takes the next step on the main track in the $250,000 Strub (gr. II) Feb. 7.
The grade III Sir Beaufort Stakes Dec. 26 was downgraded to ungraded status after being switched to the main track, but after being reviewed by the American Graded Stakes Committee, the original status was reinstated.
Favored Gio Ponti waited for room under a patient Garrett Gomez and blasted through the pack mid-stretch to win the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes going away in a race taken off the Santa Anita Park turf course and transferred to the Pro-Ride main surface Dec. 26.
Gio Ponti, attempting to make amends after a troubled trip as the choice in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) a month ago, figures to draw considerable attention in a contentious field for the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita opening day program Dec. 26.
Jockey Mike Smith, trainer John Shirreffs, and owners/breeders Jerry and Ann Moss have one trip to the Hollywood Park winner's circle guaranteed. They are hoping for a second with Madeo following the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Nov. 30.
IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm's Court Vision, who lost to Gio Ponti by a nose in the July 19 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), turned the tables on his rival Oct. 4 in the $250,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT), as the son of Gulch edged in front in mid-stretch and went on win by a three parts of a length on the Belmont turf.
Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti, who has established himself as one of the top 3-year-old turf runners in the nation this year, looks to return to his winning ways when he takes on six sophomores in the $250,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) Oct. 4 at Belmont Park.
Madeo, justifying the faith trainer John Shirreffs has shown in him, overtook pacesetter Tangled Tango in deep stretch to post a handy upset in the $350,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Aug. 31.
Winner of the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) in his last start, Gio Ponti switches coasts for New York-based trainer Christophe Clement and takes a shot at the best the California 3-year-old turf division has to offer in the $350,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Aug. 31.
Gio Ponti got the nose decision over Court Vision in the $772,500 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) in a tremendous stretch run over the Colonial Downs turf course July 19, spoiling favored Sailor's Cap's shot at a $5 million bonus.
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