Kingsbarns Leads All the Way to Win Louisiana Derby
Horse of the Year Flightline Headlines List of 2022 Eclipse Award WinnersRacingContent provided by BloodHorse
Exhibiting brilliance from a mile to 1 ¼ miles, and punctuated by an 8 ¼-length victory in the Nov. 5 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, Flightline soared to Eclipse Award heights as North America’s 2022 Horse of the Year.
The son of Tapit, honored Jan. 26 at The Breakers Palm Beach in South Florida, also received an Eclipse Award as champion older dirt male of last year, easily outpolling Life Is Good and others in that category, just as he did in the Horse of the Year race.
Although many expressed disappointment this fall to the horse’s retirement to stud at Lane’s End Farm, coming after just two seasons of racing and six starts, Flightline provided racegoers much to appreciate in his limited appearances. He was in a class by himself in the final tally of votes, just as he was on the racetrack throughout his career and as a 4-year-old in 2022.
“How do you describe greatness? This is a rare horse that happens every 20-30 years,” trainer John Sadler said following the BC Classic.
Horse of the Year and Champion Older Dirt Male: Flightline
Trainer: John Sadler
Owners: Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing
2022 record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $4,255,000
Signature wins: Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, TVG Pacific Classic Stakes, Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap
Flightline’s three starts last year – the shortest campaign of any Horse of the Year winner since the Eclipse Awards began in 1971 – resulted in a combined margin of victory of 33 ½ lengths, all in Grade 1 company. He earned a 140 in the World Thoroughbred Rankings, making him the highest-rated dirt horse ever on that platform since their ratings began in 2004.
“He’s got to be up there with the best of all time,” Bill Farish of Lane’s End said the day after his overpowering Classic victory over Olympiad.
Via the Lane’s End-affiliated Woodford Racing, Farish was part of a partnership that raced Flightline, along with Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Equine, who bred him.
In addition to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2022, Flightline won the Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap and the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes. He retired with $4,514,800 in earnings, with much of that coming last year.
Flightline never raced at age 2 and competed just three times at both 3 and 4, in part from minor setbacks but also due to Sadler’s desire to space out the races from the freakishly fast runner. Despite predictions by some speed figure-oriented pundits that the blazing-fast colt would “bounce,” a horse racing term meaning regress, he was brilliant from start to finish over his short career.
“Brilliant is his normal,” Sadler said after the Breeders’ Cup. “He didn’t disappoint. He never has.”–Byron King
Champion Older Dirt Female: Malathaat
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Shadwell Stable
2022 record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $2,055,675
Signature wins: Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, Juddmonte Spinster Stakes, Personal Ensign Stakes
Malathaat capped her 2022 season – and her career – with a brilliant surge to victory in the 2022 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, but it was her consistent performance throughout the year that carried her to the title of champion older dirt female.
Shadwell Stable’s daughter of Curlin put together a three-race win streak during the second half of the season, taking the Personal Ensign Stakes in August, the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes in October, and the Distaff. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat ran six times in 2022 with four wins and two seconds, earning $2,055,675.
“My late father was the best horseman I’ve ever known, and he only spoke fondly about a handful of his mares... and I heard him talking about Malathaat even before she started her 3-year-old career,” said Sheikha Hissa bin Hamdan al-Maktoum, daughter of the late Shadwell Stable founder Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum. “He was a reserved and quiet man, so for him to speak so fondly about a 2-year-old who still arguably had a lot to prove surprised me. I’m thrilled that she’s as good as he believed she was.”–Claire Crosby
Champion Male Turf Horse: Modern Games
Trainer: Charles Appleby
2022 record: 7 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third
2022 earnings: $2,581,368
Signature wins: FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile Presented by PDJF, Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes
Two starts was all it took for Modern Games to become the new darling of North American turf racing in 2022. The Godolphin homebred was crowned 2022 champion turf male at the Eclipse Awards based on a campaign that occurred primarily in Europe but was highlighted by two wins in North America: the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF and the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. He had first made an impression on these shores when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2021 but was declared by stewards as competing for purse money only due to a pre-race incident in the starting gate.
“He’s beginning to get some fanfare around the world, but it’s great to see him get the recognition today that he didn’t get 12 months ago from no fault of his own,” trainer Charlie Appleby told BloodHorse after the colt’s thrilling victory in the Nov. 5 BC Mile.
Although he ran just twice in the U.S., the Irish-bred son of Dubawi left a memorable impression in both of his starts. He completed his 3-year-old season sporting a 3-2-1 record from seven trips to the post and a bankroll of $2,581,368. –Lauren Gash
Champion Female Turf Horse: Regal Glory
Trainer: Chad Brown
Owner: Peter Brant
2022 record: 7 starts – 4 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $1,374,250
Signature wins: TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational Stakes presented by PEPSI, Jenny Wiley Stakes, Longines Just a Game Stakes, Matriarch Stakes
Regal Glory collected three Grade 1 victories and $1,374,250 during a stellar 2022 campaign for owner Peter Brant and trainer Chad Brown, improving with age and adding the title of champion turf female to her résumé.
The daughter of Animal Kingdom won four graded stakes last year, including three Grade 1s, and finished second in two other Grade 1 stakes from seven total starts. She rebounded from her only off-the-board finish of 2022 in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF with a 5 ¼-length win in the Matriarch Stakes to close out the season.–Molly Rollins
Champion 3-Year-Old Male: Epicenter
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds
2022 record: 8 starts – 4 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $2,810,000
Signature wins: Runhappy Travers Stakes, Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby
Four graded stakes victories and two seconds in America's Triple Crown series gave Epicenter the gravitas required to beat out Taiba by virtual open lengths (155 first-place votes to Taiba's 66) during a high-profile chase for the title of champion 3-year-old male.
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ son of Not This Time was of the nation’s top sophomores throughout the year. He won the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford and the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on the Triple Crown trail, finished second to longshot Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and to Early Voting in the Preakness Stakes, and then rebounded to win both the Jim Dandy Stakes and the Runhappy Travers Stakes in the summer. Epicenter was retired after he was injured during the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. His record for 2022: four wins and three seconds from eight starts with earnings of $2.81 million.
“Epicenter was solid all year and the Travers was the breakout performance he needed and deserved, and he did it in an emphatic way,” trainer Steve Asmussen said after the colt’s retirement to Ashford Stud was announced. “He put everything together on a grand stage.”–Eric Mitchell
Champion 3-Year-Old Filly: Nest
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owners: Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House
2022 record: 8 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $1,768,050
Signature wins: Central Bank Ashland Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama Stakes
The easiest path to an Eclipse Award is to dominate a division. When a horse can then go outside that division and deliver a stellar performance, earning a championship is a slam dunk. Nest, the robust sophomore female who was dominant throughout 2022, did just that, earning the coveted prize as the top 3-year-old filly.
Nest, who raced for Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House, earned $1,768,050 off a 5-2-0 record in eight starts. The daughter of Curlin earned her championship with open-length scores in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes against 3-year-old fillies and the Beldame Stakes against older females. In the CCA Oaks and Alabama, Nest turned the tables on Secret Oath, the filly that defeated her in the Longines Kentucky Oaks.–Evan Hammonds
Champion 2-Year-Old Male: Forte
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable
2022 record: 5 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $1,595,150
Signature wins: FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, Hopeful Stakes
Trainer Todd Pletcher is no stranger to outstanding 2-year-olds. Heading into 2022, he had two juvenile champions to his credit and owned two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile wins, along with six in the Champagne Stakes and three in the Hopeful Stakes, New York’s two premier stakes for juveniles.
By year’s end most of those totals rose as Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable‘s Forte compiled what rates as the most productive season by one of Pletcher’s 2-year-old colts. The son of Violence posted three Grade 1 scores with victories in the Hopeful and Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity that preceded a decisive 1 ½-length score in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by TAA which made it academic that he would be named the Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old male on Jan. 26.
“You can argue he’s the most accomplished 2-year-old we’ve had, and we’ve been fortunate to have a couple of champions,” Pletcher said. “He was as dominant as any 2-year-old we’ve had. What he did is very difficult to do. You don’t have that many opportunities to win Grade 1 stakes with a 2-year-old and he was near-perfect.”
Forte won four of his five starts in 2022 and earned $1,595,150.–Bob Ehalt
Champion 2-Year-Old Filly: Wonder Wheel
Trainer: Mark Casse
Owner: D. J. Stable
2022 record: 5 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $1,550,725
Signature wins: NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Darley Alcibiades Stakes
As trainer Mark Casse watched Wonder Wheel improve as spring turned to fall in 2022, he couldn’t resist sharing the encouraging progress of the 2-year-old filly – even comparing her precocity with that of 2016 champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire.
“I put some pressure on myself, and sometimes I would ask myself, ‘Why did I do that,’” Casse said after this year’s NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. “But I tell people the way I feel.”
The pressure most assuredly was off Casse after watching Wonder Wheel rally from 11th early to win the Juvenile Fillies Nov. 4. That victory completed a season in which the daughter of four-time leading sire Into Mischief won four of five starts for owner D.J. Stable and finished second in the one race she didn’t win, with earnings of $1,550,725. That record earned her an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old female for 2022 at the Jan. 26 ceremony.–Frank Angst
Champion Male Sprinter: Elite Power
Trainer: Bill Mott
2022 record: 6 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 1 thirds
2022 earnings: $1,398,380
Signature wins: Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint, Vosburgh Stakes
Rattling off five consecutive victories from spring through fall, capped by the Nov. 5 Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Juddmonte’s Elite Power surged to Eclipse Award honors as champion male sprinter of 2022.
Buoyed by his late-season stakes achievements, the Bill Mott trainee outpolled stablemate Cody’s Wish, the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, 2021 champion male sprinter Jackie’s Warrior, and others.
Lightly raced due to shin issues and other minor setbacks early in his career, Elite Power finished off the board in a pair of sophomore starts in 2021. “And we brought him back (in 2022), and he’s been sound as a bell of brass,” Mott said after the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Classy, too, compiling a 5-for-6 record and earning nearly $1.4 million in 2022.–Byron King
Champion Female Sprinter: Goodnight Olive
Trainer: Chad Brown
Owners: First Row Partners and Team Hanley
2022 record: 4 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $915,450
Signature wins: Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Ballerina Handicap
With a spotless record and two back-to-back victories in Grade 1 company, First Row Partners and Team Hanley‘s Goodnight Olive became a shoo-in for an Eclipse Award as the champion female sprinter of 2022.
The daughter of Ghostzapper, owned by First Row Partners and Team Hanley, won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by 2 ½ lengths following a win in the Ballerina Handicap to clinch year-end honors.
Goodnight Olive won all four of her starts in 2022 and earned $915,450.–Corrie McCrosky
Outstanding Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
2022 wins: 325
2022 earnings: $37,075,772
Leading horses: Life Is Good, Forte, Nest, Elite Power, Annapolis, Goodnight Olive, Mo Donegal, Colonel Liam, Golden Pal
Irad Ortiz Jr.’s career has been one filled with superlatives. But what he accomplished in 2022 en route to receiving the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey begs the question of, what can he do to top this most memorable year?
For starters, Ortiz’s earnings of $37,075,772 shattered his record set in 2019 ($34,109,019) for single-season earnings. In the process, he moved past Corey Nakatani, Laffit Pincay Jr., Alex Solis, Gary Stevens, and Chris McCarron into the top 10 in all-time earnings.
What made Ortiz’s year all the more impressive is he accomplished all that he did with his fewest starts (1,362) in a year since 2012 with the exception of 2020, which was the year the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
His 325 wins were the third-most of his career behind 2018 and 2021. His $27,222 earned per start was also a career best. His winning percentage matched that of 2020 when he won 24%.
Ortiz’s Eclipse honor is his fourth, following a three-year string from 2018-20. Ortiz is tied with Javier Castellano and Pat Day for third-most Eclipse Awards.–Joe Perez
Outstanding Apprentice Jockey: Jose Antonio Gomez
2022 wins: 153
2022 earnings: $7,647,616
Leading horses: Golden Rocket, Royal Urn, Reggae Music Man, Baby Man, Lady Mine
Jose Antonio Gomez made his debut in June 2021 at Monmouth Park. And while he didn’t pick up his first win until more than four months later, Gomez’s career has been on the rise ever since. Now that rise includes Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey.
Gomez ended the year as the leading apprentice jockey and ninth overall on the New York Racing Association circuit, where he raced 917 of his 1,312 races. In those, he compiled a 98-95-117 mark with $5,803,684 in earnings.
For the year, Gomez was tied for 40th with 153 wins, capturing 12% of his races. He was also 28th in earnings at $7,647,616.
“It all came by surprise. I didn’t expect to start out here in New York,” said Gomez. “I’m thankful for all the trainers, everybody who is a part of the team, and all the people who taught me and gave me a chance to learn even before I started riding.”–Joe Perez
Outstanding Trainer: Todd Pletcher
2022 wins: 223
2022 earnings: $30,482,937
Leading horses: Life Is Good, Malathaat, Nest, Forte, Mo Donegal, Annapolis, Mind Control, Colonel Liam
As Todd Pletcher basks in the recognition of a record eighth Eclipse Award as the outstanding trainer, it is a glow he happily shares with a score of individuals and a deep, talented stable of equine athletes.
“It means a lot to me and my staff but it’s meaningful to me because when we have a year worthy of an Eclipse Award it means we’ve done really well with our horses and for our owners,” said the 55-year-old Pletcher, who was announced as the top trainer over fellow finalists Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen Jan. 26.
Pletcher’s far-reaching stable, with New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Florida divisions, finished 2022 with 223 wins from 1,020 North American starts and career-best earnings of $30,482,937 – no small accomplishment for the sport’s all-time earnings leader ($451.2 million).
The eight-time recipient joined Frank Stronach and Stronach’s Adena Springs breeding operation in becoming just the second person or entity to be honored that many times in a single category. It was also his first award since 2014, which came on the heels of 2004-07, 2010, and 2013 trophies.–Bob Ehalt
Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder: Godolphin
2022 wins (owner): 88
2022 earnings (owner): $16,343,067
2022 wins (breeder): 150
2022 earnings (breeder): $18,621,521
Leading horses: Modern Games, Cody's Wish, Rebel's Romance, Speaker’s Corner, Nations Pride, Mischief Magic, Proxy
Decades of nurturing families and painstaking research behind matings have resulted in a recent bonanza for Godolphin’s breeding and racing program that has been rewarded with its second consecutive Eclipse Award as Eclipse outstanding breeder and its third such title since 2012.
More impressively, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s organization also snagged consecutively both outstanding breeder and outstanding owner awards, with both 2021 and 2022 racing seasons enriched by elite homebreds.
“In America last year, all our Grade 1 horses were all homebreds. I think we’ve had this great opportunity to have lots of nice fillies that have been retired to the breeding program...so we have been able to reap the rewards of having strong broodmare bands and a strong stallion roster as well,” said Michael Banahan, director of bloodstock for Godolphin USA.
Godolphin was represented as individual breeder by 189 starters that captured 150 wins and another 242 placed finishes. These runners earned $18,621,521 in prize money and included 20 black-type winners.
As owner, Godolphin made 438 starts in 2022 that resulted in 88 wins, 61 seconds, and 57 thirds. Its runners banked $16,343,067 in North American purses.–Eric Mitchell
Steeplechase Horse: Hewick
Trainer: John Joseph Hanlon
Owner: T.J. McDonald
2022 record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds
2022 earnings: $433,263
Signature wins: Grand National Hurdle Stakes
The results of the 2022 steeplechase season were up and down (pun intended) which put pressure on Eclipse Award voters. The three finalists – Down Royal, Hewick, and Snap Decision – all had their high marks on course, but it was Hewick who got the bob, and the statue.
Some years it only takes one ultra-impressive score to win a championship, and that was the case with T. J. McDonald’s Hewick. A two-time stakes winner in Britain and Ireland earlier in the year, Hewick’s lone United States outing was an 11 ½-length tour de force in the sport’s biggest race in North America, the Oct. 15 Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills in New Jersey.
Trainer John “Shark” Hanlon said after the race, “I’ve never had a horse anywhere near as good as this one. For a trainer like me with a small yard, he’s brilliant.”–Evan Hammonds
In voting that concluded on Jan. 3, 2023, Eclipse Awards voters cast their ballots to rank the top three horses and individuals in each championship division on a 10-5-1 point system.
This voting established the top three finalists in each division, whose names were released on Jan. 7, 2023. The tallies below represent only first-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form, and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. Voter participation rate: 246/258= 95.3%
(Name, First-Place Votes)
Forte, 243; Cave Rock, 2; Victoria Road, 1.
Wonder Wheel, 240; Hoosier Philly, 3; Meditate, 2; Julia Shining, 1.
Epicenter, 155; Taiba, 66; Modern Games, 18; Cyberknife, 4; Rich Strike, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Nest, 238; Tuesday, 4; Echo Zulu, 2; Secret Oath, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.
Older Dirt Male
Flightline, 240; Country Grammer, 1; Jackie’s Warrior, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Olympiad, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Older Dirt Female
Malathaat, 241; Clairiere, 2; Goodnight Olive, 2; Letruska, 1.
Elite Power, 108; Cody’s Wish, 70; Jackie’s Warrior, 62; Jack Christopher, 4; Flightline, 1; Golden Pal, 1.
Goodnight Olive, 228; Caravel, 12; Echo Zulu, 2; Matareya, 2; Kimari, 1; Wicked Halo, 1.
Male Turf Horse
Modern Games, 189; Rebel’s Romance, 50; Nations Pride, 2; Casa Creed, 1; Classic Causeway, 1; Golden Pal, 1; Gufo, 1; Shirl’s Speight, 1.
Female Turf Horse
Regal Glory, 96; In Italian, 51; War Like Goddess, 47; Tuesday, 40; Caravel, 6; Bleecker Street, 3; Gina Romantica, 1; Spendarella, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.
Hewick, 113; Snap Decision, 88; Down Royal, 15; Howyabud, 1. Voter Abstentions, 29.
Godolphin LLC, 195; Peter Brant, 20; Hronis Racing LLC, Sienna Farm LLC, Summer Wind Equine LLC, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing LLC, 11; Klaravich Stables Inc., 6; Repole Stable, 5; End Zone Athletics, 2; Charles Fipke, 1; Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, 1; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 1; Voter Abstentions, 4.
Godolphin LLC, 182; Summer Wind Equine LLC, 30; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, 16; Calumet Farm, 11; Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables, 4; Voter Abstentions, 3.
Todd Pletcher, 108, Chad Brown, 95; John Sadler, 16; Steve Asmussen, 12; William Mott, 6; Brad Cox, 4; Mark Casse, 1; Phil D’Amato, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.
Irad Ortiz Jr., 218; Flavien Prat, 24; Jose Ortiz, 1; Joel Rosario, 1, Luis Saez, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.
Jose Antonio Gomez, 112; Vicente Del-Cid, 91; Jeiron Barbosa, 18; Kylee Jordan, 4; Marshall Mendez, 1; Madeline Rowland, 1; Voter Abstentions, 19.