Many Eclipses Winners Took Road Through New York
By Jenny Kellner | 01/20/2013 01:50 PM ET
PHOTO/ Adam Coglianese
Wise Dan, Shanghai Bobby, Questing, Ramon Dominguez and Dale Romans were just some of the human and equine stars whose achievements on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit in 2012 led to their Eclipse Awards Saturday night.
Wise Dan, who swept Horse of the Year, Older Male and Male Turf Horse honors at the 42nd annual award ceremonies at Gulfstream Park, launched a four-race win streak on turf at Saratoga Race Course this summer. His five-length triumph in the Grade 2 Fourstardave was followed by wins in the Woodbine Mile, the Shadwell Turf Mile and ultimately a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park as he became the first horse since John Henry in 1981 to win in those three categories.
Undefeated Shanghai Bobby scored impressive victories at all three NYRA tracks en route to winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Eclipse as Champion Two-Year-Old Male. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, the Harlan’s Holiday colt broke his maiden at Aqueduct Racetrack, won the Track Barron overnight stakes at Belmont Park, took the Three Chimneys Hopeful at Saratoga and then won the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne at Belmont prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
Three-Year-Old Filly Champion Questing won a pair of Grade 1 races at Saratoga in 2012, taking the Alabama and the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and Sheikh Mohammed bin Al-Rashid, who won as Owner with Godolphin Racing and Breeder with Darley. Five of Godolphin’s Grade 1 wins in 2012 came on the NYRA circuit: in addition to Questing, Emcee won the Forego at Saratoga, Alpha dead-heated to win the Travers, also at the Spa, and Nahrain won the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont.
Dominguez, 36, won as Champion Jockey for the third straight year. NYRA’s top rider 2009, Dominguez led the nation in earnings with a record $25,582,252 and won 341 races despite missing six weeks on two separate occasions from injury. All but 19 of his victories came on the NYRA circuit, including six of his 10 Grade 1’s: the Travers at Saratoga (Alpha), the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct (Stay Thirsty), and the Garden City (Samitar), the Gazelle (Dance Card), Longines Just a Game (Zagora), and Woodford Reserve Manhattan (Desert Blanc) at Belmont.
Tapitsfly’s victory in the Longines Just a Game was one of two Grade 1’s in New York for Champion Trainer Dale Romans, who won the title for the first time on the strength of nine Grade 1 wins in 2012. Romans, who earlier was awarded the The Big Sport of Turfdom Award, an annual honor awarded by the Turf Publicists of America to a person who enhanced coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists, also won the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont with Shackleford., the 2011 Preakness winner.
Royal Delta, last year’s Three-Year-Old Filly Champion, won the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park en route to a successful defense of her Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic victory and honors as the nation’s top Older Female. Female Sprinter titlist Groupie Doll made her lone New York appearance in November a memorable one, getting nosed out by Stay Thirsty in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct.
Sprint champion Trinniberg won the Grade 3 Bay Shore at the Big A and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by VisitNassauCounty.com at Belmont en route to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Female Turf Champion Zagora, who won her first Grade 1 victory in the Diana at Saratoga in 2011, finished second in this year’s edition, but rebounded to win the Grade 2 Ballston Spa presented by Jose Cuervo en route to taking the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. It was the second straight Eclipse for trainer Chad Brown and owner Martin Schwartz, who won last year with Stacelita.
Champion steeplechaser Pierrot Lunaire had two Grade 1 victories this year; in addition to the Grand National at Far Hills, the 8-year-old broke a three-year winless streak as a 48-1 winner of the Lonesome Glory Hurdle Stakes in September at Belmont.