Flightline crowned Horse of the Year

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Carolyn Simancik/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup

Edited NTRA Press Release.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced this evening that Flightline, who captivated Thoroughbred racing fans with three dominating performances in New York, California and Kentucky last year, was named the 2022 Horse of the Year at the conclusion of the 52nd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony, presented by John Deere, Keeneland and The Jockey Club, at The Breakers Palm Beach in Florida.

The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, are voted on by the NTRA, consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, Daily Racing Form, and members of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.

Owned by Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing, and trained by John Sadler, Flightline received 239 out of a possible 246 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. As a 4-year-old, Flightline, a son of Tapit and the Indian Charlie mare Feathered, won the Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar by an 19 ¼ lengths, and capped off his career by winning the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in November by 8 ¼ lengths. Flightline, who won all six of his career starts, was also voted Champion Older Dirt Male.  

Flightline was joined by Malathaat, as one of the three finalists for Horse of the Year. Owned by Shadwell Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat won the Champion Older Dirt Female Eclipse Award capped off by her victory in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland. Malathaat earned her second Eclipse Award, having been crowned last year’s Champion 3-year-old Filly.

Pletcher, with training operations in Florida, Kentucky and New York, won an unprecedented eighth Outstanding Trainer Eclipse Award, having previously won from 2004-2007, 2010, and 2013-2014. In 2022, Pletcher finished second among all trainers in total earnings with more than $30.4 million. He won 223 races and saddled three champions. In addition to Malathaat, Pletcher also trained Champion Two-Year-Old Male, Forte, winner of the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, Nest, who won three Grade 1 stakes races and finished second in the Belmont Stakes.

Winchell Thoroughbred’s Epicenter was voted Champion Three-Year-Old Male. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Epicenter finished second in both the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and the Preakness Stakes, but won his next starts at Saratoga, capturing the Jim Dandy and the Runhappy Travers Stakes. 

D.J. Stable’s Wonder Wheel won the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Eclipse Award. Trained by Mark Casse, Wonder Wheel clinched the trophy with back-to-back Grade 1 victories at Keeneland, taking the Darley Alcibiades and the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

New York-based rider Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Outstanding Jockey Eclipse Award for the fourth time in the last five years, sweeping the honor from 2018-2020. Last year, Ortiz established new marks for total earnings by a jockey with $37,075,772. He also set a North American record with 80 stakes wins. Ortiz won three Breeders’ Cup races and also rode Mo Donegal to victory in the Belmont Stakes. 

Two of Ortiz’s Breeders’ Cup winners ― Elite Power and Goodnight Olive ― swept the Male Sprint and Female Sprint Eclipse Awards, respectively. Juddmonte’s Elite Power, trained by Bill Mott, came on strong late in the year, taking the Vosburgh Stakes and the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint. First Row Partners and Team Hanley’s Goodnight Olive won the Ballerina at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint to secure the Champion Female Sprinter award for trainer Chad Brown. 

Brown also trained Peter Brant’s Regal Glory, who captured the Champion Female Turf Eclipse Award. During her 6-year-old campaign, Regal Glory won three Grade 1 stakes races, including the First Lady at Keeneland, the Just A Game at Belmont, and closed out the year by taking the Matriarch at Del Mar. 

Godolphin’s Modern Games won the Male Turf Eclipse Award off victories in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) in Canada and the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland. Godolphin displayed its international prowess in North America by winning both the Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder Eclipse Awards for the second year in a row. Godolphin topped all North American owners in earnings with $16,343,067, led by such Grade 1 winning stars as Cody’s Wish and Rebel’s Romance, in addition to Modern Games. Godolphin-bred runners earned more than $18 million in North America last year and accounted for 12 Grade 1 wins. 

Completing the human awards, Jose Antonio Gomez was voted Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. Riding on the New York circuit, the Michigan native, Gomez led all North American apprentice riders with earnings of $7,635,366. Gomez also won 152 races from 1,312 starts.

Hewick, owned by T.J. McDonald, and trained by John “Shark” Hanlon, was voted Champion Steeplechase Horse. At age 7, Hewick won two races in Europe before coming to the U.S. and dominating the American Grand National hurdle stakes at Far Hills, N.J. by more than 11 lengths last October.

The complete list of 2022 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below (horse ages in parentheses where applicable; Country codes indicate a foreign breeding designation):

  • Two-Year-Old Male: Forte
  • Two-Year-Old Filly: Wonder Wheel 
  • Three-Year-Old Male: Epicenter
  • Three-Year-Old Filly: Nest
  • Older Dirt Male: Flightline (4)
  • Older Dirt Female: Malathaat (4)
  • Male Sprinter: Elite Power (4)
  • Female Sprinter: Goodnight Olive (4) 
  • Male Turf Horse: Modern Games (Ire) (3) 
  • Female Turf Horse: Regal Glory (6)
  • Steeplechase Horse: Hewick (Ire) (7)
  • Owner: Godolphin
  • Breeder: Godolphin
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Apprentice Jockey: Jose Antonio Gomez
  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher 
  • Horse of the Year: Flightline (4)

The Eclipse Awards 
Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon the Thoroughbred horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective divisions. The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-Century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies. 

Voting Overview 
In voting that concluded Jan. 3, 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 Jan. 7. 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 percent.

(Name, First-Place Votes) 

Two-Year-Old Male: Forte, 243; Cave Rock, 2; Victoria Road (Ire), 1.

Two-Year-Old Filly: Wonder Wheel, 240; Hoosier Philly, 3; Meditate (Ire), 2; Julia Shining, 1.  

Three-Year-Old Male:  Epicenter, 155; Taiba, 66; Modern Games (Ire), 18; Cyberknife, 4; Rich Strike, 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.

Three-Year-Old Filly: Nest, 238; Tuesday (Ire), 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.

Male Sprinter: Elite Power, 108; Cody’s Wish, 70; Jackie’s Warrior, 62; Jack Christopher, 4; Flightline, 1; Golden Pal, 1.

Female Sprinter: Goodnight Olive, 228; Caravel, 12; Echo Zulu, 2; Matareya, 2; Kimari, 1; Wicked Halo, 1. 

Male Turf Horse: Modern Games (Ire), 189; Rebel’s Romance (Ire), 50; Nations Pride (Ire), 2; Casa Creed, 1; Classic Causeway, 1; Golden Pal, 1; Gufo, 1; Shirl’s Speight, 1.

Female Turf Horse: Regal Glory, 96; In Italian (GB), 51; War Like Goddess, 47; Tuesday (Ire), 40; Caravel, 6; Bleecker Street, 3; Gina Romantica, 1; Spendarella, 1; Voter Abstention, 1. 

Steeplechase Horse: Hewick (Ire), 113; Snap Decision, 88; Down Royal, 15; Howyabud (Ire), 1. Voter Abstentions, 29.

Horse of the Year: Flightline, 239; Country Grammer, 1; Life Is Good, 1; Malathaat, 1; Voter Abstentions 4.

Owner: Godolphin, 195; Peter Brant, 20; Hronis Racing, Sienna Farm, , Summer Wind Equine; West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing, 11; Klaravich Stable, 6; Repole Stable, 5; End Zone Athletics, 2; Charles Fipke, 1; Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, 1; Winchell Thoroughbreds, 1; Voter Abstentions, 4. 

Breeder: Godolphin, 182; Summer Wind Equine, 30; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, 16; Calumet Farm, 11; Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables, 4; Voter Abstentions, 3.  

Trainer: Todd Pletcher, 108, Chad Brown, 95; John Sadler, 16; Steve Asmussen, 12; Bill Mott, 6; Brad Cox, 4; Mark Casse, 1; Phil D’Amato, 1; Voter Abstentions, 3.  

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr., 218; Flavien Prat, 24; Jose Ortiz, 1; Joel Rosario, 1, Luis Saez, 1; Voter Abstention, 1.   

Apprentice Jockey: Jose Antonio Gomez, 112; Vicente Del-Cid, 91; Jeiron Barbosa, 18; Kylee Jordan, 4; Marshall Mendez, 1; Madeline Rowland, 1; Voter Abstentions, 19.

* * *
Special Award: Racing journalist Jay Privman received a Special Eclipse Award for Career Excellence.

Horseplayer of the Year: David Harrison was presented an Eclipse Award as the 2022 Horseplayer of the Year.

Media Eclipse Awards: Media Eclipse Awards also are given in the categories of photography, audio/ multi-media Internet, news/enterprise writing, feature/commentary writing, television–feature, and television–live racing programming to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing. The 2022 Media Eclipse Awards winners, determined by a judges’ panel for each category and previously announced, are: 

Photography – Wendy Wooley – “Elbow Room Please,” The Paulick Report, Oct. 1, 2022. 

Writing – Feature/Commentary – Tim Layden – “Beneath the Super Bowl’s Turf: The Ghosts of Hollywood Park,” NBCSports.com, Feb. 8, 2022. 

Writing – News Enterprise – Tom Law – “Big Tally,” Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, July 1, 2022

Live Television Programming – NBC Sports Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 4-5, 2022

Lindsay Schanzer – NBC Sports Producer of Horse Racing

Feature Television Programming – NBC Sports – “Cody’s Wish” Nov. 5, 2022

Jack Felling – Coordinating Producer

Audio/Multimedia – Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) – Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 5, 2022 

Mike Penna – HRRN President