It came as no surprise to anyone that Bricks And Mortar was named horse of the year at the Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. What was surprising is the lack of California-based horses receiving awards.
After winning eight Eclipse Awards last year and five the year before, California had only one winner, Storm The Court, who was awarded best 2-year-old Male. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.
Bricks And Mortar and Covfefe each won two awards Thursday. In addition to being horse of the year, Bricks And Mortar also won Male Turf horse of the year. He won all six of his races in 2019 including the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Covfefe won the 3-year-old Filly and Female Sprinter awards. Covfefe won five of her six races including the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Bricks And Mortar was the second non-California-based horse to win horse of the year in the last six years.
The sometimes overly long ceremony went off in a brisk 115 minutes. The only flubs were by announcer J.D. Pelletier, who initially introduced the female hosts as “horse” and then mispronounced the name of Craig Fravel, chief executive for racing for the Stronach Group. Fravel made light of it when he spoke and so did Belinda Stronach, chairman of the Stronach Group as well as the hosts at the end of the awards.
Stronach also spoke about the importance of horse safety and singled out trainer Richard Mandella for scratching Omaha Beach from Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup. Omaha Beach sustained a right-hind ankle injury and was retired Thursday.
And, Alex Waldrop, chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn., also set a tone of race horse safety.
“2019 was a pivotal year for thoroughbred racing the U.S.,” Waldrop said. “We faced serious questions from the American public, questions about safety and transparency of our sport. We answered some of those questions but our work is far from done. All of us in this sport and this business must do our part to make safety of horses and riders our No. 1 priority. Every race, every day, every racetrack.”
Here are the winners and first-place vote totals.
Horse of the year: Bricks And Mortar 241, Mitole 19, Maximum Security 14, Midnight Bisou 1, Vino Rosso 1, Omaha Beach 1.
2-Year-Old Male: Storm The Court, 147; Structor, 51; Maxfield, 12; Independence Hall, 8; Tiz The Law, 6; Four Wheel Drive, 4; Dennis’ Moment, 3; Anneau d’Or, 2; Eight Rings, 2; Thousand Words, 2; Basin, 1; Nucky, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
2-Year-Old Filly: British Idiom, 222; Bast, 12; Sharing, 6; Alms, 1.
3-Year-Old Male: Maximum Security, 217; Omaha Beach, 16; Code Of Honor, 8.
3-Year-Old Filly: Covfefe, 189; Guarana, 19; Serengeti Empress, 11; Iridessa (IRE), 9; Concrete Rose, 6; Dunbar Road, 6; Cambier Parc, 1.
Older Dirt Male: Vino Rosso, 129; Mitole, 108; McKinzie, 3; Voter Abstention, 1.
Older Dirt Female: Midnight Bisou, 210; Blue Prize (ARG), 31.
Male Sprinter: Mitole, 236; Maximum Security, 5.
Female Sprinter: Covfefe, 235; Belvoir Bay (GB), 4, Mia Mischief, 1; Serengeti Empress, 1.
Male Turf Horse: Bricks And Mortar, 241.
Female Turf Horse: Uni (GB), 126; Sistercharlie (IRE), 61; Got Stormy, 33; Iridessa, (IRE) 15; Concrete Rose, 3; Vasilika, 2; Cambier Parc, 1.
Steeplechase Horse: Winston C (IRE), 158; Brain Power (IRE), 44; Scorpiancer (IRE), 3; Voter Abstentions, 36.
Owner: Klaravich Stables, Inc. and William H. Lawrence, 184; Gary Barber, 18; Peter Brant, 11; Calumet Farm, 6; William and Corrine Heiligbrodt, 3; Gary and Mary West, 3; Joseph Besecker, 2; End Zone Athletics, Inc., 2; Hronis Racing, 2; Madaket Stables LLC, 2; LNJ Foxwoods, 1. Voter Abstentions, 7.
Breeder: George Strawbridge Jr., 122; Calumet Farm, 94; Godolphin, 8; Edward A. Cox Jr., 2; Gary and Mary West, 2; WinStar Farm, 2; William S. Farish, 1; Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, 1; Voter Abstentions, 8.
Trainer: Chad Brown, 204; Steve Asmussen, 19; Brad Cox, 5; Jason Servis, 5; Karl Broberg, 2; Mark Casse, 1; Voter Abstentions, 5.
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr., 205; Javier Castellano, 21; Flavien Prat, 5; Joel Rosario, 3; Mike Smith, 3; Jose Ortiz, 1. Voter Abstentions, 3.
Apprentice Jockey: Kazushi Kimura, 74; Julio Correa, 60; Angel I. Diaz, 53; Cristian A. Torres, 19; Jorge I. Velez, 3; Reylu Gutierrez 1; Keimar Trotman, 1; Voter Abstentions, 30.
Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune won the news/enterprise Eclipse Award for a story on the one-year anniversary of the San Luis Rey Downs fire.