Eclipse Owners Darley/Lael In Dead Heat

For the first time in the history of the Eclipse Awards, there is a tie for outstanding owner of the year. Although Bernardini defeated Barbaro for top 3-year-old male honors, Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable tied with Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables for outstanding owner with 110 votes apiece.

Sheikh Mohammed has been a force in racing for decades, but he found classic glory in North America in 2006. Bernardini carried the Darley silks to victory in the Preakness (gr. I), Travers (gr. I), Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), Jim Dandy (gr. II), and Withers Stakes (gr. III), and finished second behind eventual Horse of the Year Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup - Powered by Dodge (gr. I). He was not alone in collecting graded stakes wins for Darley, however, as Dubai Escapade won the Ballerina Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. I), Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. II), and Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II); Songster won the Woody Stephens Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) and Hirsch Jacobs Stakes (gr. III); and Day Pass took the Nashua Stakes (gr. III).

Darley ended 2006 as the leading owner by earnings, as horses campaigned by the stable earned $6,449,822 and won 63 races from 293 starts.

In 2006, the Jacksons’ Lael Stables campaigned grade I winners Barbaro and Showing Up, and both colts entered the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) undefeated. Barbaro came into the race with victories in the Florida Derby (gr. I), Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III), Tropical Park Derby (gr. III), and Laurel Futurity, and exited the race the commanding 61/2-length winner. In his next start, the Dynaformer colt shattered his right hind leg in the Preakness and continues his recovery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center. Showing Up, who finished sixth in the Derby after winning the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), went on to excel on the turf and won the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT), Hollywood Derby (gr. IT), Jamaica Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. IIT), and $1-million Colonial Turf Cup Stakes. The Jacksons were also represented by graded stakes winner Stormy Kiss, who won the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II).

Lael Stables ended the year fifth on the owners’ list by earnings with $4,333,045. From 109 starts, its horses won 28 races.

(Article appears in the January 27, 2007 issue of The Blood-Horse)