Bricks And Mortar, Maximum Security, Mitole Vie For Horse Of The Year, Other Honors At Eclipse Awards

by | 01.22.2020 | 3:24pm
Bricks and Mortar, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., wins the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on Breeders' Cup World Championship Saturday at Santa Anita Park on November 2, 2019. Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup/CSM

Campaigns representing perfection, drama, and brilliance will vie for the ultimate year-end honor in North American Thoroughbred racing when the 49th Annual Runhappy Eclipse Awards presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders' Cup and The Stronach Group are held Thursday evening, January 23, at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Winners in 17 horse and human categories will be recognized at the Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony, culminating in the announcement of the 2019 Runhappy Horse of the Year. Bricks and MortarMaximum Security, and Mitole are the three finalists for Horse of the Year and are also up for respective divisional honors.

Trained by Chad Brown, bred by George Strawbridge Jr., and owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Bricks and Mortar crafted a 6-for-6 campaign in 2019 that featured five Grade 1 victories. The son of Giant's Causeway kicked his 5-year-old season off with a victory in the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational last January. From there, Bricks and Mortar proceeded to dominate the grass male ranks in methodical fashion by posting five more graded stakes triumphs – including Grade 1 wins in the Turf Classic Stakes, Manhattan Stakes, and Arlington Million – before capping his career with a victory in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf.

All of Bricks and Mortar's connections are also up for individual Eclipse Award honors. Brown is the favorite to win his fourth straight Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer while Klaravich Stables and Lawrence are finalists for Outstanding Owner. Irad Ortiz Jr., who piloted Bricks and Mortar in all of his starts last year, is seeking his second straight Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and Strawbridge is a finalist for Outstanding Breeder.

Owned and bred by Gary and Mary West, Maximum Security had a roller-coaster of a 3-year-old campaign that ultimately concluded on a definitive peak. In his first try against graded company, the Jason Servis-trained colt led every point of call to take the Grade 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby by 3 ½ lengths on March 30. He would go on to hit the wire first in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve but, after nearly 22 minutes of deliberation by the stewards, he was disqualified to 17th and his roses were handed off to initial runner-up Country House due to interference.

Despite the heartache of that infamous result, Maximum Security's quality would prove indisputable during the second half of the year. The son of New Year's Day went on to post victories in the Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Invitational, Grade 3 Bold Ruler, and Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap with the last two triumphs coming against elder rivals.

Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt's Mitole took the raw talent he had teased of previously to another level in 2019. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen – who is also a finalist for Outstanding Trainer – Mitole registered six victories and four Grade 1 wins during a campaign that was capped by a sublime triumph in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Masterful as Mitole was in winning the Churchill Downs Stakes, Forgeo Stakes, and Breeders' Cup Sprint, it was his effort over eight furlongs in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap that arguably stands as his most impressive outing. Facing the likes of multiple Grade 1 winner McKinzie – a finalist for Champion Older Dirt Male – and two-time Dubai World Cup hero Thunder Snow (IRE), Mitole used his high-cruising speed to post a three-quarter length victory in the prestigious race.

Eclipse Awards voting is conducted by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB), the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and Daily Racing Form. Of the 254 eligible voters representing the NTRA, NTWAB, and Daily Racing Form, 241 (94.88%) took part in this year's voting. Finalists were determined in each category by voters' top three selections, using a 10-5-1 point basis. Eclipse Award winners are determined solely by first-place votes.


The 2019 Eclipse Award finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

Horse of the Year:        Bricks and Mortar, Maximum Security, Mitole

Two-Year-Old Male:      Maxfield, Storm the Court, Structor

Two-Year-Old Filly:       Bast, British Idiom, Sharing

Three-Year-Old Male:   Code of Honor, Maximum Security, Omaha Beach

Three-Year-Old Filly:    Covfefe, Guarana, Serengeti Empress

Older Dirt Male:            McKinzie, Mitole, Vino Rosso

Older Dirt Female:        Blue Prize (ARG), Elate, Midnight Bisou

Male Sprinter:               Imperial Hint, Mitole, World of Trouble

Female Sprinter:           Belvoir Bay (GB), Come Dancing, Covfefe

Male Turf Horse:           Bricks and Mortar, Mo Forza, World of Trouble

Female Turf Horse:      Got Stormy, Sistercharlie (IRE), Uni (GB)

Steeplechase Horse:    Brain Power (IRE), Scorpiancer (IRE), Winston C (IRE)

Owner:                       Gary Barber, Peter Brant, Klaravich Stables, Inc. and

                                      William H. Lawrence        

Breeder:                       Calumet Farm, Godolphin, George Strawbridge Jr.

Trainer:                        Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Brad Cox 

Jockey:                        Javier Castellano, Irad Ortiz, Jr., Jose Ortiz

Apprentice Jockey:    Julio Correa, Angel Diaz, Kazushi Kimura    

In addition to honoring the 17 winners in the horse and human categories, Scott Coles will receive the Eclipse Award as the 2019 Horseplayer of the Year. Members of the media will be honored for outstanding coverage in six categories.

The Eclipse Awards will air live on TVG beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The Racetrack Television Network (RTN) also will make the Eclipse Awards available across all of its platforms, including Roku,and a livestream of the ceremony will be available online at Eclipse Awards partner websites DRF.com, XBTV.com, and GulfstreamPark.com.

The “black-tie optional” Eclipse Awards is part of a full week of events that will culminate with the fourth running of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Presented by Runhappy, on Jan. 25. Separate tickets to the Pegasus World Cup are available on the Gulfstream Park website at pegasusworldcup.com.

Official Partners of the Eclipse Awards include The Stronach Group, Breeders' Cup, Daily Racing Form, Keeneland, Florida HBPA, Red Brand, Racetrack Television Network (RTN), Dean Dorton, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Hallway Feeds, Clear Span, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, New York Racing Association, Jackson Family Wines, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Racing Expressions, Big Ass Fans, and Indianos Tequila. The official charity of the Eclipse Awards is the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).

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