11 Feb 2022 11:20


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced on Thursday evening that Knicks Go, who captured both the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), was voted the 2021 Horse of the Year at the conclusion of 51st Eclipse Awards ceremony, presented by 1/ST Racing and FanDuel Racing Group, at Santa Anita Park.
The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, are voted on by the NTRA, consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, Daily Racing Form (DRF), and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.
Owned by Korea Racing Authority and trained by Brad Cox, Knicks Go received 228 votes out of a possible 235 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Knicks Go, a Maryland-bred gray son of Paynter, was also voted Champion Older Dirt Male. Racing as a 5-year-old in 2021, Knicks Go won five races in seven starts, which also included victories in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3), the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga, and the Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. He culminated his season with a front-running 2 ¾-length victory in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar in November.
Knicks Go was joined by stablemate Essential Quality, the Champion 3-Year-Old Male, and Letruska, the Champion Older Female, as the finalists for Horse of the Year, Knicks Go led all North American horses in total earnings last year with $7,324,140. He was retired to stud following a second-place finish in this year’s Pegasus World Cup. Cox was honored for the second consecutive year with the Outstanding Trainer Eclipse, and Joel Rosario, who rode Knicks Go in all of his races last year, won the Outstanding Jockey Eclipse Award.
Cox, a Louisville, Kentucky native, established a North American earnings record for trainers last year with $31,001,731 in total earnings. He won 269 races, including 30 graded stakes. In addition to Knicks Go, the Cox-trained Essential Quality had a big season leading the 3-Year-Old Males. Owned and bred by Godolphin, which swept the Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder Eclipse Awards, Essential Quality won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2), the Belmont Stakes (G2) and the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) last year. Essential Quality also won last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Male trophy, and becomes just the sixth horse to win both honors since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971.
Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat, a winner of three Grade 1 stakes races, was voted Champion 3-Year-Old Filly. Owned by Shadwell Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat captured the Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, the Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.
St. George Stable’s Letruska dominated the Older Female Dirt division under trainer Fausto Gutierrez, who campaigned the 5-year-old mare to six graded stakes wins. Of those victories, three were Grade 1 scores in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park and the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland.
A pair of undefeated juveniles captured the Two-Year-Old Male and Two-Year-Old Filly Eclipse Awards. Speedway Stables’ Corniche won the Two-Year-Old Male Championship, going 3-for-3, including the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) for trainer Bob Baffert.  L & N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’  Echo Zulu, trained by Steve Asmussen,  won all four of her starts in runaway fashion, culminating with a  5 ¼-length victory in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to secure the Championship Two-Year-Old Filly title.
Asmussen also trained Kirk and Judy Robison’s Male Sprint Champion Jackie’s Warrior. During his 3-year-old season, Jackie’s Warrior displayed lightning quickness in winning four stakes races, including the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes at Saratoga.
Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce won the Female Sprinter Eclipse Award. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce, won four of six starts, including the Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, where she defeated last year’s Female Sprint champion Gamine.
International stars captured the two Eclipse Awards for turf runners. DMM Dream Club’s Loves Only You (JPN), who gave Japan its first win in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships when she captured the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar, was voted Champion Female Turf horse.  Godolphin’s Yibir (GB) was named Champion Male Turf horse. Trained by Charlie Appleby, the 3-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE), won The Jockey Club Derby at Belmont Park and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf  (G1) at Del Mar.


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