Tuesday, January 17, 2012 12:00 AM
- Kentucky Cup
- Spiral Stakes
FLORENCE, Ky., Jan. 17, 2012 – Winning alumni from two of Turfway Park’s most significant races took home the Thoroughbred industry’s top honors Monday during the 41st annual Eclipse Award ceremonies at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Hansen, who won the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in November after prepping at the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway in September, was named 2011's champion 2-year-old male. Hansen earned 194 votes compared to 52 votes for Union Rags, who was heavily favored in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and a single vote for Secret Circle.
A silvery-gray Tapit colt bred by Northern Kentucky physician Kendall Hansen and co-owned by Hansen and Sky Chai Racing, Hansen also broke his maiden at Turfway and was undefeated in three starts. Hansen is trained by Mike Maker.
As of Jan. 10, Hansen was listed at 18-1 on the Wynn Las Vegas Kentucky Derby Future Book. Union Rags, second to Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and California-based Liaison were listed as 12-1 co-favorites.
Animal Kingdom was voted the year's champion 3-year-old male, confirming the value of his dynamic win in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He had prepped for the first leg of the Triple Crown by winning the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway in March. Animal Kingdom was the first Kentucky Derby victor to win the legendary classic race without ever having previously raced on dirt. All four of his prior starts had come over turf or all-weather engineered surfaces, including Turfway's Polytrack.
Voting came down to 114 votes for Animal Kingdom, 111 for Caleb's Posse, and 12 for Preakness winner Shackleford. The margin was the slimmest of the awards and highlighted the voters’ respect for the Kentucky Derby and its classic 1 1/4-mile distance. Caleb’s Posse, who also finished second in voting for the champion sprinter award, won the Ohio Derby (G3), Amsterdam Stakes (G2), King's Bishop Stakes (G1), and Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in 2011. The Ohio Derby at 1 1/16 miles is the longest of those four races.
Animal Kingdom is owned by Team Valor and trained by Graham Motion.
Animal Kingdom was a fast-closing second, beaten half a length, in the Preakness Stakes (G1) after a slow break. He was the 5-2 favorite in the Belmont Stakes but was bumped hard by a rival a few strides out of the gate and stumbled badly, nearly unseating jockey John Velazquez. Despite a powerful charge to reach contention, the son of 2005 Eclipse Award champion Leroidesanimaux could not sustain the intense belated run and finished sixth. Animal Kingdom was sidelined by a small fracture to his left hind leg, an injury believed to have been sustained in the Belmont Stakes incident, and has been out of competition since June. He returned to serious training in November and is being pointed toward the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31, the world’s richest race.
The Eclipse Awards honor the equine and human champions of Thoroughbred racing and are sponsored by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers Association. Members of the organizations have the vote.