By BETH HARRIS
AP Racing Writer
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Filly Havre de Grace defeated the
boys again, winning Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards on
Monday night and becoming the third consecutive female to receive
the honor in a year that lacked a superstar in thoroughbred racing.
Havre de Grace joins Zenyatta in 2010 and Rachel Alexandra in
2009 - two horses that captured the general public's interest and
imagination - as one of six females to earn the sport's top award.
She received 166 first-place votes and 1,897 total points in
balloting by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing
Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and
"It's some kind of thrill to win this award that I only dreamed
of maybe 10, 15 years ago," owner Rick Porter said.
"She's the most deserving horse. She had the most memorable
campaign and accounted for the most excitement at the top level of
the sport throughout the year."
Acclamation finished second with 26 first-place votes and 552
points. Cape Blanco was third with nine first-place votes and 325
points. Game On Dude wasn't among the three finalists, but earned
10 first-place votes.
Havre de Grace was also honored with the older female trophy.
She is trained by Larry Jones and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, who
earned jockey of the year. She's in training at Oaklawn Park in
Arkansas in preparation for a 4-year-old campaign this year.
"She's a racing star and racing needs stars," Jones said,
crediting Porter for keeping her on the track and out of the more
lucrative breeding shed. "Having insurance on this horse is going
to cost him as much as she'll probably win."
Havre de Grace won the Woodward against male horses last year,
then challenged them again and finished fourth in the BC Classic.
"It didn't go our way, but we never looked back and said it was
a mistake," Jones said.
Earlier last year, she won the Apple Blossom Handicap and the
Beldame, two of her three Grade 1 stakes wins.
"She did everything Larry and I asked of her and then some,"
Porter said, accepting her first trophy of the night. "She's an
owner's dream come true. She's made racing for me and many others
so thrilling. She is the best."
Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom earned 3-year-old male
honors at the awards honoring the top horses and humans of the year
Bill Mott won trainer honors, capping a year in which he swept
the top two races at the Breeders' Cup.
Mott earned his third career Eclipse over fellow Hall of Famer
Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher, who led the nation's trainers in
purse earnings with $16.8 million.
Mott saddled Royal Delta to victory in the BC Ladies' Classic in
November and the next day his Drosselmeyer pulled an upset in the
BC Classic. Last year, the East Coast-based Mott won 15 graded
stakes races, including six in November. Mott had purse earnings of
more than $10.5 million.
"The competition was pretty deep and this is a real honor,"
Mott said in thanking his assistant trainers, his horses and his
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Hansen won the trophy for
2-year-old male at the 41st annual awards honoring the top horses
and humans of 2011.
Hansen beat out Union Rags, winner of the Saratoga Special and
Champagne and runner-up in the Juvenile.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey were chosen owner of the year. Their horses
earned more than $4.8 million, fourth-best in the nation.
Adena Springs Farms, based in Kentucky and Canada and run by
Frank Stronach, was chosen breeder of the year for the fourth time.
Ireland-bred Cape Blanco earned male turf honors. He flew to the
U.S. and won the Man o' War, Arlington Million and Turf Classic
Invitational for trainer Aidan O'Brien. France-bred Stacelita took
the female turf award.
In the sprinting categories, Amazombie won male honors and
Musical Romance took the female trophy. Amazombie, who was never
worse than third in nine starts last year, capped 2011 with a win
in the BC Sprint. Musical Romance won the BC Filly & Mare Sprint.
California-based Acclamation received older male honors, winning
five of his seven starts last year, including the Pacific Classic.
"Wow, after only 55 years in the business, I think that's
pretty great," co-owner Bud Johnston said.
My Miss Aurelia, who won all four of her races, including the BC
Juvenile Fillies, received 2-year-old filly honors. She is co-owned
by Stonestreet Stables, the racing operation of Jess Jackson, who
named the filly before he died of cancer last year.
Black Jack Blues of Ireland was chosen top steeplechase horse.