More often than not, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) earns the Eclipse Award as the 2-year-old champion filly. Form in 2017 held sway as Caledonia Road took the top prize after her sweeping 3 1/4-length score at Del Mar during the World Championships.
However, she is no one-hit wonder, having already proved her mettle back East in New York. Based on her running style, pedigree, and physical make-up, she has a leg up on being a star at 3.
Bred in Florida by Vegso Racing Stable, Caledonia Road is by top sire Quality Road , whose fee has jumped to $70,000 for 2018, out of Dixie Union mare Come a Callin. Trainer Ralph Nicks, a career horseman who had quietly built his business since leaving Bill Mott's shedrow, found the filly in the Eaton Sales consignment at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. His client, Luc Paiement, paid $140,000 for her and sent her to Florida to begin her racing career.
Caledonia Road went through her early training with Barry Berkelhammer, who said "she was a tall, rangy filly who looked like she would go all day. I thought she'd be a little later to come, but Ralph got her to the races earlier than I expected."
She broke her maiden at first asking on the next-to-last day of the Saratoga Race Course meeting for Paiement's Zoom and Fish Stable and Charlie Spiring, then bounced back quickly and went in the Oct. 8 Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. She closed from seventh to finish second in her stakes debut. Agent Nick Sallusto was taken by the filly and procured a piece of her for his client Newtown Anner Stud.
Nicks planned on giving her time, perhaps waiting for the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) in late November, but the filly was on the improve so Nicks called an "old-school" audible and went for the Breeders' Cup.
Picking up "Big Money" Mike Smith and chasing a contentious pace in her two-turn debut in the Breeders' Cup, Caledonia Road proved clearly best in the Juvenile Fillies, leaving 12 fillies in her wake, including Eclipse finalist Moonshine Memories.
While youth has been served by Caledonia Road's championship, perhaps it was Nicks perspective that helped get her there.
"When I was younger, I got caught up in what everybody else does and you see a lot of people make the same mistakes," he said. "At 50 I've learned not to worry about what everybody else says about my training."
About all anyone can say now is, "Congratulations."