Male turf champion Leroidesanimaux

Male turf champion Leroidesanimaux

Barbara D. Livingston

Eclipse Award: Leroidesanimaux, Turf Male

Add another jewel to the crown Leroidesanimaux wears as "King of the Animals" following his coronation as 2005 champion turf male.

Leroidesanimaux lived up to his king of the turf reputation in 2005 by gobbling up his rivals on the grass to end the season with a record of three wins from four starts. His lone defeat came in a second-place finish, when he was beaten three-quarters of a length by Artie Schiller in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.

The race for divisional championship honors between Leroidesanimaux and Artie Schiller was tighter than the Breeders' Cup finish, with Leroidesanimaux getting the better of his rival by three votes, 119 to 116.

The hype over trainer Bobby Frankel's newest turf star began in 2004 when he won his second start in the United States -- a mile allowance contest at Santa Anita -- after being relocated by Goncalo and Regina Borges Torrealba's TNT Stud from his native Brazil. Leroidesanimaux was bred under the Torrealbas' Haras Bage Do Sul banner. Following that allowance contest, Leroidesanimaux or "Leroy," as his racetrack subjects took to calling him, clicked off seven more wins, including six in graded stakes company, before falling just shy of an undefeated season in the Breeders' Cup.

He began his quest toward championship honors with a one-length gate-to-wire win in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita. The Kilroe Mile was packed with talent, as seven of the nine starters were grade I winners entering the race. But in the end, it was all Leroy, who stopped the clock in 1:33.89. From the Kilroe Mile, Leroy shipped east to Saratoga where he reigned supreme over all comers in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT). Carrying high weight of 122 pounds, the 5-year-old son of Candy Stripes covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in front-running fashion in 1:39.92, breaking the course record of 1:39.99 set by Roman Envoy in 1992.

While the Kilroe Mile and the Fourstardave were impressive wins, it was his mind-blowing effort in the Atto Mile (Can-IT) at Woodbine that firmly stamped the horse as the one to beat in the Breeders' Cup. Despite running on a yielding course for the first time in his 12-start career, Leroy took command of his eight rivals approaching the half-mile pole and cruised away to a 7 3/4-length win. He stopped the clock in 1:35.08. Leroy mania hit an all-time high during the week leading up to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

The striking chestnut drew the outside post position of 11, which didn't diminish the confidence Frankel had in him. "If he's as good of a horse as I think he is, then post position won't matter," the trainer said that week. In the end it might have been more than an outside post that cost Leroy an undefeated season.

The morning of the race it was discovered Leroy's feet were too sore for the bar shoes he had been training in to be removed and replaced with racing plates. Despite sore feet, bar shoes, and an outside post, Leroy, under jockey John Velazquez, stalked the early pace on the outside prior to moving three wide rounding the turn for home to gain a slight advantage in upper stretch before he was run down by the winner.

The Breeders' Cup was the last race for Leroidesanimaux, who was retired to stallion duty at Richard and Audrey Haisfield's Stonewall Stallions near Versailles, Ky. His 2006 fee is $30,000. Stonewall acquired him for stallion duty in the days leading up to the Atto Mile. Produced from the Ahonoora mare Dissemble, Leroy retired with a career record of 9-2-0 from 13 starts. He earned $1,658,377.

Voting for Male Turf Horse:
Leroidesanimaux, 119; Artie Schiller, 116; Shirocco, 17; Powerscourt, 3;; Kitten's Joy, 2; Relaxed Gesture, 2; Voter Abstentions, 3.