Half of the 2019 racing calendar is in the rear-view mirror, and the race for Horse of the Year is tight, but there are certainly front-runners.
The quality of graded stakes wins is just as important as the quantity, of course, but three horses have been unstoppable at racing's highest levels through the end of June: Bricks and Mortar, Midnight Bisou, and Vasilika. Each tallied four graded stakes wins in the first half of the year and came to their totals in completely different ways.
Bricks and Mortar, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, racked up his wins on four different turf courses east of the Mississippi River. He kicked off his year on a big note, taking the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January, then followed up in March with a win by a nose in the G2 Muniz Memorial Handicap at the Fair Grounds.
Bricks and Mortar closed hard and fast to win the G1 Turf Classic Handicap in May at Churchill Downs, then in June, he won the G1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Chad Brown trains Bricks and Mortar for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence. Brown's nine graded winners in the month of June extended his lead in the trainer standings, with his 19 total winners this year surpassing the combined totals of his two next-closest competitors — Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, each with eight.
Midnight Bisou has had her own cross-country journey to four graded stakes wins this year, starting in the G3 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes in January at Sam Houston Race Park. The next two starts for the 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly came at Oaklawn Park, where she took the G2 Azeri Stakes in March and G1 Apple Blossom Handicap in April.
She continued to assert her dominance in the older females division as she headed north with a strong victory in G1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park.
Asmussen saddles Midnight Bisou for the partnership of Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables, and Allen Racing.
Rounding out the trio is Vasilika, who did all of her winning on the Santa Anita turf. The first score came in January in the G3 Megahertz Stakes, followed in February by the G2 Buena Vista Stakes. Two months later, Vasilika rolled off a win in the G2 Royal Heroine Stakes, and then made her return to Grade 1 competition in May with a successful stalking trip in the Gamely Stakes.
Jerry Hollendorfer trains the 5-year-old daughter of Skipshot for a partnership including himself, All Schlaich Stables, Gatto Racing, and George Todaro.
|Graded Stakes Winners by Consignor|
|1||Taylor Made||14 (18)|
|2||Lane's End||11 (14)|
|4||Eaton Sales||4 (7)|
|Wavertree Stables||4 (6)|
|6||Stone Farm||3 (6)|
|Select Sales||3 (5)|
|Claiborne Farm||3 (3)|
|Darby Dan Farm||3 (3)|
|Niall Brennan Stb.||3 (3)|
|Tally Ho Stud||3 (3)|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Breeder|
|2||Calumet Farm||4 (5)|
|3||Hertrich & Fielding||3 (4)|
|Claiborne Farm||3 (3)|
|Gary & Mary West||3 (3)|
|Ramona Bass||3 (3)|
|WinStar Farm||3 (3)|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Sire|
|3||Candy Ride||6 (6)|
|4||Quality Road||5 (7)|
|Street Sense||5 (5)|
|6||War Front||3 (6)|
|Into Mischief||3 (4)|
|Medaglia d'Oro||3 (4)|
|More Than Ready||3 (4)|
|Twirling Candy||3 (4)|
|Exchange Rate||3 (3)|
|Hard Spun||3 (3)|
|Uncle Mo||3 (3)|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Trainer|
|1||Chad Brown||19 (25)|
|2||Steve Asmussen||8 (14)|
|Todd Pletcher||8 (9)|
|4||Mark Casse||7 (9)|
|Bill Mott||7 (8)|
|6||Richard Baltas||6 (6)|
|John Sadler||6 (7)|
|Graded Stakes Wins by Jockey|
|2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||17|
|7||Ricardo Santana Jr.||9|
|Total Graded Stakes Wins by Horse|
|1||Bricks and Mortar||4|
|War of Will||3|
|World of Trouble||3|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Sale|
|4||FT MID May||9|
|Graded Stakes Wins by Sales Company|
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