Sunday, January 18, 2015

Many New York faces among Eclipse winners


Sunday, January 18, 2015


Contact: Jenny Kellner



Many New York faces among Eclipse winners


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - From Todd Pletcher to Main Sequence, Javier Castellano to Close Hatches, and Tom Durkin to Demonstrative, a host of familiar faces on the New York Racing Association circuit were among those who received horse racing's highest honors at the 44th annual Eclipse Awards on Saturday evening in Hallandale, Fla.


Pletcher received an unprecedented seventh Eclipse Award as North America's top trainer, having led the nation in earnings with more than $22.4 million. In 2014, Pletcher, who previously won the Eclipse from 2004-07, in 2010 and again last year, saddled 240 winners from 999 starters. Among his Grade 1 triumphs in New York were the Hopeful with Competitive Edge, the Alabama and Coaching Club American Oaks with Stopchargingmaria, the Metropolitan Handicap with 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, and the Champagne with Daredevil.


Top Turf Horse and Older Male Champion Main Sequence won four races after arriving in the United States in 2014, two of them in New York. The 6-year-old chestnut gelding, trained by H. Graham Motion, took the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on August 17 at Saratoga Race Course and the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park in dramatic fashion prior to his win in the Breeders' Cup Turf.


In earning his second straight Eclipse as the nation's top jockey, Castellano, 37, led all riders in purse earnings with $25,056,464 and was second in victories with 315, many of them in New York. Among his Grade 1 scores on the circuit were a record-tying fourth Travers victory aboard V. E. Day, the King's Bishop aboard The Big Beast, the Champagne with Daredevil, the Manhattan on Real Solution and the Just A Game with Coffee Clique.


Older Female Champion Close Hatches also turned in a pair of stellar performances in New York last year, capturing the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 22 at Saratoga by five emphatic lengths and triumphing over an outstanding field of fillies and mares to win the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 7 at Belmont.


Durkin, whose retirement from race calling on August 31 at Saratoga Race Course was recognized by the NTRA as one of the most memorable moments of the year, was awarded an Eclipse Award of Merit for a 43-year career as a track announcer, 24 of them with the New York Racing Association. In his acceptance speech, Durkin - who was introduced by Daily Racing Form's New York correspondent David Grening - told the crowd they had just given racing's highest honor to "someone who's allergic to horses."


Demonstrative earned the title as the nation's outstanding Steeplechase Horse after fashioning a record of 3-1-1 from six starts, including two Grade 1 victories in New York: the New York Turf Writers' Cup at Saratoga and the Lonesome Glory at Belmont Park.


Both Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old Male champion California Chrome and unanimous 3-Year-Old Filly champion Untapable made but one appearance each in New York in 2014, but they were both memorable. In June, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was beaten less than two lengths, finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, as he sought to end a 37-year Triple Crown drought. Untapable, who received all 265 first-place votes, roared to a 9 ¼-length victory on the Grade 1 Mother Goose on June 28 at Belmont Park en route to a 6-0-0 record from seven starts.


Also taking home statuettes were the connections of the Chad Brown-trained Dayatthespa, who included a victory in the Yaddo at Saratoga on her way to earning honors as top Female Turf Horse, and top 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi, who ran twice at Saratoga, finishing second in the Grade 3 Schuylerville and fifth in the Grade 3 Adirondack.


Ken and Sarah Ramsey, perennially among the top 10 owners in New York,

won their second straight Eclipses as Outstanding Owner and Breeder. Among their notable victories in New York in 2014 were the Grade 1 Flower Bowl with Stephanie's Kitten, the Grade 1 Manhattan with Real Solution, the inaugural Belmont Gold Cup with Charming Kitten and the Lure with Big Blue Kitten.



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