Flightline, Pletcher, Godolphin lead way at Eclipse Awards
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night.
And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.
Flightline — the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career — won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male. It was no surprise that Flightline took home both awards, and he’s now standing stud.
“We’ll hope that his future is as bright as his past,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said.
Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.
“This is truly a golden era for Godolphin racing,” said Michael Banahan, the stable’s director of bloodstock. “And these awards and accolades recognize how special it is.”
It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. It was one of the few close races in the voting; Pletcher got 108 first-place votes, while four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown got 95 and finished second.
“This really is not an individual award. This is a team award,” Pletcher said. “This is an award about the owners, and most importantly, the horses.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years; he tied Pat Day and Javier Castellano for third-most in history, behind only seven-time winner Jerry Bailey and five-time winner Laffit Pincay Jr.
Ortiz led all jockeys with more than $37 million in purses in 2022.
“Wow,” Ortiz said. “It’s been an amazing year for me.”
Forte won the Eclipse as 2-year-old male, and will enter this year’s Triple Crown season as one of the early favorites.
“We’re all in this game for a horse like Forte,” said Mike Repole, the horse’s co-owner along with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and Teresa Viola. “We’re all in this game to one day maybe own a 2-year-old that has a chance. It’s great to have the Kentucky Derby favorite. ... Forte’s an incredible horse.”
Epicenter won the 3-year-old male Eclipse, after running second at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then winning the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga over the summer.
Wonder Wheel was the winner as 2-year-old filly, while Nest won the Eclipse in the 3-year-old filly division. Malathaat was the Eclipse winner for older dirt female, Goodnight Olive for female sprinter and Regal Glory for female turf horse.
Elite Power was picked as the top male sprinter, Modern Games won the Eclipse for male turf horse, and Hewick was the Eclipse winner in the steeplechase division.
Jose Antonio Gomez won as top apprentice jockey.
The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.
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