Dave Harmon

Dank Looms Large in Turf Filly Eclipse Battle

Dank, Laughing, and Mizdirection face off with identical 2013 race records in tow.

All three finalists for the Female Turf Horse Eclipse Award for 2013 have identical records—each won four of five starts on the season. Each also won four group/graded stakes. And two earned Breeders’ Cup victories. It is one of the deepest of the Eclipse divisions, sure to crown a worthy champion.

Winners in the 17 horse and human categories will be announced at the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The ceremony will air live on HRTV.

Although she only raced twice in North America as a 4-year-old in 2013, Great Britain-bred Dank made her mark in arguably the two most prestigious events for older fillies and mares on the grass.

Owner/breeder James Wigan and trainer Michael Stoute first sent the Dansili mare stateside over the summer, and she defeated eight foes in the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park by a definitive 4 1/4 lengths Aug. 17.

Returned to her home base after that, she came back to North America and proved best again in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), defeating the best North American turf females such as Laughing, Tiz Flirtatious, and Marketing Mix while going 1 1/4 miles in 1:58.73. Out of the Darshaan mare Masskana, Dank also won group races in Ireland and England in 2013, and although those don’t count toward Eclipse balloting, her two huge victories here loom large. She earned just under $1.7 million on the year.

Mizdirection obviously loves Santa Anita Park and particularly its downhill turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs. For the second straight year, the daughter of Mizzen Mast —Deceptive, by Clever Trick, excelled in and won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) down the hill.

Over the same course earlier in the year, the then-5-year-old annexed the Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIT), the one-mile Buena Vista Stakes (gr. IIT), and Las Cienegas Stakes (gr. IIIT). Owned by a partnership that includes radio/TV personality Jim Rome, Mizdirection tallied $805,000 in earnings for the season while being trained by Mike Puype. She was bred in Kentucky by Joseph Perrotta. 

Irish-bred Laughing was unbeatable last summer, winning consecutively the Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT) in June, the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) in July, the Ketel One Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT) in August, and the Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) in September for owner Richard Santulli and trainer Alan Goldberg. Laughing (Dansili—Comic, by Be My Chief) was bred by Floors Farming and The Duke of Devonshire. She earned $930,000 as a 5-year-old in 2013. Laughing died in early January after a bout with colic.