Epic battle for Horse of Year highlights 2019 EOY Awards


How can a horse win five Grade 1 races and not win Horse of the Year?

Hard to believe, but that’s what happened in 2019 in the new, amazing derbyfever.com.

For years, trainers have suffered under a brutal system of wear and tear. Would-be champions kept evaporating like the morning dew. However, in the past couple of years, something has changed. Dominant horses are continuing to dominate, instead of imploding.

Our two shining examples this year are GIANT’S KASH and BOLDEN BIDDER.

Stoners’ magnificent turf champion Bolden Bidder won five Grade 1 races this year, and somehow is not our Horse of the Year. Instead, that honor belongs to Roxyken’s Giant’s Kash, who won four Grade 1 races, but two of them of the gigantic $6 million variety: the Bluegrass Stakes and the Breeders’ Bowl Classic. It is hard to believe that an all-time season like that of Giant’s Kash was nearly matched.

His trainer was a nervous wreck, even as the final days of the 2019 calendar were upon us.

“I know it’s pretty much a lock right now, but for some reason I do not feel like I should acknowledge it until it becomes official,” said a nervous Roxy on Sunday, Dec. 29.

“In fact, I’ve had the Giant in training in case I had to enter on short notice into something,” he said.

Officially, the margin is $120,000. For the year, Giant’s Kash won $11,415,000 in stakes purses, while Bolden Bidder won $11,295,000. If the EOY awards were determined purely on stakes points, and not earnings, Bolden Bidder would have won. He currently boasts 640 stakes points, to 596 for Giant’s Kash.

With Horse of the Year finally decided, Giant’s Kash will get some well earned rest.

“Right now, Giant will get a little time off,” Roxy said. “His last start was rushed without adequate training. Something I reacted to once I saw Stoners’ titan of a horse picking up a big win. Still, Giant got a fair fifth out of it.”

“The Equinics races would be in the picture for the upcoming year, as well as another Breeders’ Bowl opportunity. Those would be the targets to look at. The Sand Castle Classic could be a starting point in March, but I may have him take a start before that race. I just want to avoid killing this one, although Stuck on Cards has proven to be a survivor … LOL.”

Yes, Roxy is trainer of both the Horse of the Year, and the Worst Horse of the Year. Stuck On Cards, of course, is that poor, downtrodden Simulated equine soul whom Roxy has pushed into the starting gate over 500 times now.

“Trainer of HOY and the worst HOY would be a double honor,” Roxy said. “Why not? Heck, I had the winner and last-place finisher in the Derby. Why not have that happen to the trainer, too?”

“I’ve had horses before that I tried to paint a path to get into the Derby,” he said. “Never really made long-term plans for horses after the Derby. This amazing horse has certainly changed that.”

Our third-place finisher in the race for Horse of the Year is Lawdro’s remarkable MIHALI THE GREAT. This amazing 3yo son of Not a Single Doubt dominated his division, winning three Grade 1 races going long on turf against 3yos only, then validating himself with a giant Grade 1 score against older horses in the Winter Cup. He ended 2019 with $8,475,000 in stakes earnings, a remarkable total.

There is more to follow on each of these fine champions, as we now get into the meat of the article. We now take a look at all of our 28 divisional EOY award winners, along with the second- and third-best horses in each division.

We will start with the older horses, then the 3yos, then the juveniles. We will review all our divisions in order from sprint to route to long.

One note to readers: This article, in terms of ages of the horses, was completed before the clock hit 2020. All of these horses are now a year older.

Older female turf sprint:

  1. TRASH PANDA, 1,065,000
  2. BARRANQUILLERA, 572,000
  3. WELLES CADET, 528,000

Desert Dog’s TRASH PANDA, a scratch-bred light gray 4yo by Siyouni (El Prado X Rubiano), wins her EOY award in convincing fashion, earning nearly double the stakes money of her closest divisional pursuer. They had a hard time catching her on the racetrack, too. Trash Panda was unbeatable when racing seven furlongs on the turf. She won five straight stakes going seven panels in 2019, including the Grade 1 QLD Snowy Sprint and the Grade 2 Hawkz Challenge against the colts. With only 16 starts under her belt and exiting 2019 in razor-sharp form, Desert Dog may be looking for another top season in 2020 from his magnificent turf sprinting champion.

Haack’s BARRANQUILLERA was second in this division. This bay 4yo daughter of Dansili is very speedy out of the gate, and wired the Grade 1 Fujimoto Turf Sprint going six furlongs two back. Haack had given her a nice, long rest at the outset of 2019. Barranquillera, Spanish for ravine, had fallen into a bit of a ditch in the first half of her big season. She faded in the lane in three straight starts, but that soon found a silver lining when Haack shortened her up. Her speed began to hold, and she reeled off three straight wins, capped by her Grade 1 triumph.

Cadet’s WELLES CADET was third. This 4yo bay daughter of Invincible Spirit was the early leader in the division when she won the Grade 1 CVBears Hometown Turf Stakes in June, but had lost her footing by the end of the year. She is the first of three horses in this EOY for Cadet, who did a fine job representing Empire State Racing in 2019. Our old Saratoga pal and rezzy mate was kind enough to respond to an email requesting comment: “Welles Cadet was named for Reemy Wells from 9/11 fame,” Cadet said. “She started the year off an absolute rock star, taking down the CV Bears annual Grade 1 turf sprint for the fillies. After being upset in the ESR Rez Stakes, she never rebounced after having a couple opportunities to take the championship from Trash Panda. A talented sprinter, she has done enough to be a productive broodmare in the increasingly discriminate Cadet band. Her best days are most likely behind her, but after getting some time off, she will be given a chance to make it back to open level later this month.”

Older male turf sprint:

  1. SHERPA RAYS TAP, 1,350,000
  2. CUMANA, 1,215,000
  3. KAMIKAZE KITTY, 952,500

Congratulations to Miss Buff, aka Ace, trainer of SHERPA RAY’S TAP, winner of this year’s EOY award in the turf sprint division. Ally brings immense honor to us at Empire State Racing with an EOY-award winning campaign by this 5yo roan son of Tapit, out of the Grade 2-winning Giant’s Causeway mare, RAY’S CAUSEWAY. Sherpa Ray’s Tap had fallen out of form by the end of the year, with clunkers in four of his last five races. No matter, at least as far as winning the EOY award. Sherpa Ray already had three Grade 1 victories in the bag, and now he’s got a shiny EOY badge. This came as a complete surprise to his trainer. “Uh, what?” she asked in chat on Jan. 3, in response to a request for a BTB comment. “No way. Wow, awesome. What, 24 years I’ve been in this game? Took me long enough, eh?”

Newmarket’s CUMANA, a 5yo bay son of Dubawi out of the Grade 1-winning Galileo mare CURUMICHE, also finished the year in clunker fashion, showing ugly running lines in each of his last two. Had he held his form, Cumana was on the precipice of catching Sherpa Ray’s Tap.

Kiddman’s KAMIKAZE KITTY, a speedy 4yo bay son of King Kamehameha out of the stakes-winning Sea the Stars mare KANSAS CITY KITTY, set the pace in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl before settling for the show money.

Older female turf route:

  1. TERRIFIC SWAN, 1,660,000
  2. SILVER WAY, 1,173,750
  3. SOURCES CONFIRM, 1,125,000

BBT’s TERRIFIC SWAN was simply magnficent in 2019, winning six of eight starts and capping it all off with two straight victories in Grade 1 competition. This scratch-bred 4yo brown daughter of Pivotal (Danzig X Seattle Slew) took this division by storm late in the year. She won three in a row, a Grade 2 and then two Grade 1, to vault all the way to the top. She is simply a spectacular miler.

Bizalls’ SILVER WAY might have won the EOY award in this division if not for the meteoric rise of Terrific Swan. Silver Way, a 5yo bay daughter of Gold Allure out of an allowance-winning Mr. Greeley mare named MAGANA, won two Grade 1 races in 2019.

Cadet becomes the first trainer to have two horses appear in our EOY review with SOURCES CONFIRM, a 4yo roan daughter of Tapit who finished her 2019 season in razor-sharp form, winning Grade 1 races in two of her last three. Cadet loves this gal: “A shrewd Cadet auction purchase off the best trainer this game has ever known,” Cadet said, referring to Dixie, the original owner of Sources Confirm. “This Tapit mare found her home on turf late in the 2018 season as a 3yo. Her 4yo campaign started with a lot of promise but lacking of top credentials. Her first race was a 13f listed event to get her into a fitness off a freshening. She finished a tiring third, losing to a Galileo filly, an expected result. Her next effort was a drop down to allowance company. That effort indicated an improvement with age, and is all this trainer needed to see. (Fun fact: Third place finisher in that alloance race eventually found her way into Cadet stables via auction. Look for her in listed events soon.) She then proved herself in graded company, taking both the Grade 2 Rich and Famous by more than two lengths, giving her adequate stakes points to tackle top races. The very prestigious Cedora D (Beverly D) in Cadet’s backyard at Simulated Artlington was the next target. Again, she won with ease by over two lengths. Lacking the stakes points needed to make a Breeders’ Bowl run at the quirky distance of 11 furlongs, we took at stab at 12 furlongs against the boys. She ran very well, but the boys and distance proved to be just beyond her scope, finishing a good second. After failing to make the BB field, she targeted another 10-furlong Grade 1, which fell right into her wheelhouse, again easily winning by over two. Her goals for 2020 are to make a run at champion turf mare, but most importantly, see if she can’t knock out a few more Grade 1’s while in top condition. Next up is the 10-furlong Mr. Met against the boys again, this time at her best distance.”

Older male turf route:

  1. MR. MAYHEM, 5,175,000
  2. I OCTANE, 3,000,000
  3. BLUSHING WELL, 2,925,000

Metallinut represents URC in this division with MR. MAYHEM, a scratch-bred 4yo bay son of Australia (Street Cry X Kris S.). Like the guy in the television commercials who distracts drivers and also calls himself Mayhem, Mr. Mayhem has been turning heads with amazing performances. Last out, he unleashed a beastly kick for home, winning the Grade 1 Hong Kong Cup going away with a massive 123 speed figure.

Silversun’s I OCTANE entered the Simulated Hall of Fame this year with three more Grade 1 turf wins, to go with three similar victories as a 3yo. It’s hard to believe that a horse who successfully won his way into the Hall of Fame somehow fell short of winning the EOY award in his own division. It came down to the Grade 1 King Kong Cap, when Mr. Mayhem proved best and defeated I Octane by almost six lengths.

Oldmoonfarms’ BLUSHING WELL, a scratch-bred 5yo gelded son of King Kamehameha (Sadler’s Wells X Blushing Groom), led this division early in 2019 after wins in two straight Grade 1 races. However, Blushing Well’s epic upturn in form had begun late in 2018, and was expired by the time the last half of 2019 rolled around. He finished up this season with three straight clunkers, but despite doing nothing in the second half of the year, had done enough in the first half of 2019 to keep a spot in the top three. Unfortunately, this was the last Simulated thrill for his trainer, who passed away in November. Prior to his passing, he sent an email to BTB colleague Naskippy, a fellow member of his in the Only Stayers. Oldmoonfarms’ real name was Mike Beal, and he was an avid Sim trainer. At the time of his passing, he had about 400 horses. “Mike was a very close friend of mine in the Sim,” Naskippy said in a message board post in December. “He was the one who invited me to join the Only Stayers residency. I did and he helped give me much wonderful advice and help as I attempted to learn the game as a newbie who knew nothing. Mike was a long-term player in the sim and joined on Oct. 10, 2014. During his time in the game it is my understanding that he originally was a member of Racing HQ. He then moved on to Only Stayers and later joined up with some of his stables to Hoosier Racing. Mike was a very avid fan of horse racing here in the sim, but also in real life. Mike was born in England and later immigrated to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He was known by his friends and family to be a frequent face in the crowds at the surrounding tracks in the area.”

Older female turf long:

  1. OUTBACK ANOMALY, 2,550,000
  3. TRAITOR’S DUKE, 1,446,250

We had a very tight race in the chase for the EOY award in the female turf long division. Vyz’s OUTBACK ANOMALY, a scratch-bred 5yo light gray daughter of Kitten’s Joy (Danzig X Monsun), won despite starting only five times in 2019. She clunked in her fifth and final start, the Grade 1 Millwood Cup, so every bit of her EOY award was earned in only four races. She won the Grade 1 Spring Cup, was second in the Grade 1 Ackland Cup, third in the Grade 1 Gold Glass and won the Grade 2 Longdale Cup. The Spring Cup carried a big $3 million purse, and provided the lion’s share of the earnings which propelled Outback Anomaly to a division championship. What a year it was for Vyz! He has won EOY awards with both Outback Anomaly and Outback Barbet. Congratulations to the man outback.

Willyam’s WARFAREISSPIRITUAL, a 5yo bay daughter of Declaration of War, out of the Grade 1-winning Dubawi mare PRAYINGWITHIMPACT, finished 2019 on the kind of roll that very well could have taken her to a division championship. She won four in a row, capped by her victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl F&M Turf. What a great year it was for her sire, Declaration of War. He sired not only Warfareisspiritual, he also sired MELANIE, the champion 2yo filly on the turf. It also was another great year for Willyam, who trains more than one horse in the top three of a division. He also trains Clayhesthepotter, the third-place horse in the coveted 4yo and up dirt route division.

A familiar name checks in third in the female turf long standings. The great Lenny, pillar of the great GR Simsters, trains TRAITOR’S DUKE. This 4yo bay daughter of Duke of Marmalade, out of the stakes-winning Bernardini mare TRAITOR’S WALK, missed the board in three of her last four starts of 2019 to miss her chance at an EOY award. She placed in a Grade 1, won a Grade 2, and then got up in time in the Grade 1 British Champion Gals to reach contention for a division championship. However, she could only manage fifth in the Breeders’ Bowl. Traitor’s Duke is one of three horses appearing in this review and trained by the mastermind of the erstwhile Evil Empire. His BIG DATA TEST finished

Older male turf long:

  1. BOLDEN BIDDER, 11,295,000
  2. SPARTAN REEF, 4,560,000
  3. KOOLER, 3,160,000

What an honor it is to write about the great champion BOLDEN BIDDER. The Sim has been around for 20 years and only rarely has seen an animal of this high quality. A scratch-bred, gelded bay 4yo son of Teofilo (Dynaformer X Northern Dancer), Bolden Bidder was nearly perfect in 2019 while racing exclusively in Grade 1 company. Like the new earnings record holder SPICED TURTLE, Bolden Bidder has adopted a schedule of plenty of rest between big tests. He won five of six Grade 1 starts this year, failing to win only when racing over an off track. Otherwise, he was perfect, and six for seven dating back to his first Grade 1 triumph, as a 3yo in his first Grade 1 win, the Los Angeles Turf Cup. In his six Grade 1 triumphs, Bolden Bidder has not only won, he has won easily. His six Grade 1 wins are by a combined total of 19 lengths! Can he do it again in 2020? If he does, he may threaten the new earnings record of Spiced Turtle. He already has won his way into the Hall of Fame.

Training a top-notch distance turf runner in 2019 was kind of like being a world-class sprinter in the years Usain Bolt was dominating. Such was the case with SPARTAN REEF, who finished his 2019 campaign in extremely impression fashion, yet never threatened the champion of this division. Just wait, says Deyoto, representing MIDAS and expecting big things from Spartan Reef in 2020. This scratch-bred 4yo bay son of Galileo (Kingmambo X Dynaformer) only cleared his initial allowance condition four back, then exploded in his last three to take control of the two-mile, Grade 1 scene.

If Stoners ever made the mistake of running Bolden Bidder on an off track again, Tees and KOOLER would be waiting for him. This 4yo bay son of Sea the Stars, out of a stakes-placed Street Cry mare named MAXIMUM OVERDOSE, is dominant on the off going. He has won three straight Grade 1 races on turf tracks labeled anything other than firm.

Honorable mention is made here for BANDITFRANK, Bigtrouble’s amazingly consistent 5yo bay son of Frankel. While ranked only fourth in EOY Award Points, Banditfrank is tied with the great Bolden Bidder in stakes points. Both have 640. Banditfrank has now raced in eight Grade 1 races, winning four and never missing the board! He was the only horse to come close to defeating Bolden Bidder in 2019, other than the three who finished in front of him that day on the off track. The Grade 1 King Geoff and Queen Beth’s Emerald Stakes on July 27 in Surrey has to be considered among the best Sim races of 2019. On that day, Banditfrank got an absolute dream trip, all alone in the garden spot in third, got huge first run on the leaders, and yet still could not hold off the late charge of Bolden Bidder, who beat him three quarters of a length. The speed figures that day were 123 to 121.

Older female dirt sprint:

  1. ELUSIVE HANNAH, 1,390,500
  2. MALIBU VIXEN, 1,038,750
  3. K’S YEKUANA, 900,000

James22 enjoyed a brilliant year from ELUSIVE HANNAH, a scratch-bred 4yo bay daughter of Elusive Quality (Storm Cat X Seattle Slew). A seven-furlong specialist, Elusive Hannah won seven races this year, including three Grade 2 triumphs, a Grade 3 win, and a championship in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl F&M Sprint. This mare is so good, she even won last out with Donny Beisbol in the irons.

Our main man Cool Keith, aka Casino, was getting down like it was a Disco Inferno this year with MALIBU VIXEN, a 4yo brown daughter of Malibu Moon. Her stakes-winning Deputy Minister mare, THREE D FX, got hot just in time during her 17yo and 18 yo breeding seasons, in 2016 and 2017, when she gave two Grade 1 winners.

The 6yo mare K’s YEKUANA threatened to win an EOY award despite her advanced age when she won two Grade 2 races and a Grade 1. Ledwith and his mates at Hispano Parlante always must be respected for superior horsemanship.

Older male dirt sprint:

  1. OUTBACK BARBET, 2,497,500
  2. SHINY PROSPECTOR, 1,314,500
  3. HE’S IN SHAPE, 993,750

The Simulated track owners in West Virginia have asked me to extend special appreciation to Vyz, trainer of OUTBACK BARBET, who followed up his victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Sprint with a visit to the Mountain Oval for a win in the Grade 2 Deep South Sprint. This 4yo son of War Front was gelded in August 2018 after struggling mightily as a 3yo. After a long six-month vacation and a cut back to sprints, the gelding was a new horse in 2019. He won his way up the class ladder, then closed from eighth for a dramatic victory in the Breeders’ Bowl. That’s two EOY winners for Vyz. Amazing!

Baggio’s SHINY PROSPECTOR was the one who got run down by Outback Barbet in the Breeders’ Bowl. After pressing the pace in second, Shiny Prospector fought his way to a very brief lead before Outback Barbet went by, then survived a blanket finish to hold onto the place money. Talk about an old-timey back end! Baggio gave California Chrome a real shot with this scratch-bred, who shows Mr. P in the middle and Damascus behind.

Jacklad capably represents All-Stars Racing with HE’S IN SHAPE, a 5yo light gray son of Tapit, out of the Grade 1-winning and EOY Award-winning Distorted Humor mare, OUT OF SHAPE. He’s in Shape was her first foal and is a huge success, having replicated her feat of winning a Grade 1. He’s in Shape was up in time over in Dubai last February to win the $1.5 million Grade 1 Sand Castle Golden Sprint. After that big win, He’s in Shape spent the rest of the year struggling to hit the board.

Older female dirt route:

  1. TAKE THE MOON LV, 2,437,500
  2. VENEZUELA BELLA, 927,000
  3. LIAM’S FORTUNE, 900,000

Bizalls represents Only Stayers with TAKE THE MOON LV, champion of the Breeders’ Bowl Distaff. This appears to have been quite a gift horse. Originally bred by Oldmoonfarms, this 4yo bay daughter of Take Charge Indy, out of the Hall of Fame Sadler’s Wells mare PUENTELARRA, was transferred to Bizalls before racing. Wouldn’t you love to be able to give a gift horse as fast as Take the Moon LV? She’s got a big late run, and showed it just at the right time in the Breeders’ Bowl. Take the Moon LV had been racing exclusively at 8.5 furlongs, then ran a mile and an eighth in the Distaff. Think she liked it at all? Take the Moon LV rolled him to win by two widening lengths to claim a divisional championship.

How does a filly who somehow managed to lose all four of her listed stakes tries end up second in the standings for a divisional championship? By neatly inserting a victory in a Grade 1 in between all those disappointing finishes. Haack’s VENEZUELA BELLA was far off form in her final three starts of 2019, and never was consistently successful at any point in her 4yo season. However, she was feeling great on June 8, rolling home from last to win the Grade 1 Steadhemp / Mike Phipps Handicap. In a division where no filly or mare dominated, that was enough for Venezuela Bella to come in second in her division.

LIAM’S FORTUNE is out of the amazing mare RED DUHLERT, the prize of your chatroom pal and mine, Liam. We know that Liam loves a hot race, and we know that he loves Red Duhlert. Liam’s Fortune is the fourth graded winner for Liam out of Red Duhlert. A brown daughter of the great Deputy Minister, Red Duhlert is now 21 and gave her last foal in 2019. By War Front, ONE FINAL RED will give Liam’s giant mare one last chance at Sim glory. Liam’s Fortune certainly upgraded her resume. She won two Grade 1 races in 2019. “She is the best performed daughter of Red and I feel like I managed her to perfection, which is not something I say often with my runners,” Liam said. “I showed some patience and got her to her 5yo year and won two Grade 1 races. She only had six starts for the year. I don’t think she was the most talented mare, but she got her nose down when it counted.” Liam’s Fortune has been retired, and was sent to Quality Road for her first foal, a bay filly named SEVEN THOUSAND RPM who ran a close-up fourth in her debut on Dec. 7. She is the first of many to come from the family of Red Duhlert. “I want to create a dynasty,” Liam said. “Eight of the last nine offspring out of Red were fillies. With her retirement, I’m going to be breeding sewven daughters of Red this year, then more in the future. I’ve got granddaughters I’m breeding now, too. I think it’s going to be like 20 2yos bred this year who are related to Red.” Liam’s Fortune’s next date will be with Malibu Moon, says her owner.

Older male, dirt route:

  1. GOLD WAR FRONT, 4,980,001
  2. EDENBRIDGE GLORY, 4,285,000
  3. CLAYHESTHEPOTTER, 2,613,750

Please accept, Simulated racing fans, as another strong piece of evidence of the New Age of the Iron Horse, Stockswami’s GOLD WAR FRONT. How great is this 4yo bay son of War Front? He won the EOY award in 2018 as the top 3yo dirt router, and now wins another in 2019 as the best older dirt route horse. Perhaps even more amazing is this powerful late runner has won consecutive EOY awards despite losing 11 of his 17 career starts. Gold War Front has won only six races in his life, but he sure has made them count. Four of them are Grade 1 triumphs: Sand Castle Derby, Travelers, Glenn Kegasus Tradition Killer and the Sand Castle Classic. Does Gold War Front like the track in the Simulated United Arab Emirates, or what? Congratulations to the fine Sim trainer Stockswami for an accomplishment of a lifetime: winning consecutive EOY awards with Gold War Front. Fantastic!

Theduke88’s EDENBRIDGE GLORY burst onto the scene this past summer, winning the Grade 1 Movieland Shiny Cup in his graded debut in June, and validating that victory in August in the Grade 1 Western Ocean CA Classic. Then, this 4yo bay son of Drosselmeyer, out of the Grade 1-winning and EOY-badge-bearing Montjeu mare, SWANSEA TRIUMPH. Edenbridge Glory came within a length and a half of becoming the second member of his family to win an EOY award. That was his slim margin of defeat when third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Classic.

Willyam’s CLAYHESTHEPOTTER was third in this coveted division. He is the only Grade 1 winner in the Sim by the Tapit sire Creator. Although his form declined in the second half of 2019, Clayhesthepotter came very close to winning the EOY award here, beaten only half a length in the $6 million Sand Castle Classic and only three and a quarter lengths while fifth in the $6 million Breeders’ Bowl Classic. He had his chances.

Older female dirt long:

  2. EURYDICE, 963,750
  3. WAR CAT CADET, 705,000

Marmac’s FAITHFULADAPTATION finally took a misstep in her final race of the 2019 season, but that did nothing to threaten her status as division champion. A 4yo brown daughter of Mineshaft, out of the stakes-winning Street Cry mare BRAVO’S DANCE, Faithfuladaptation went on a gigantic four-race win streak, the meat of which was back-to-back victories in the Grade 1 Scottsdale Stayer and the Grade 1 Little Rock Stayer. Not only did Faithfuladaptation win those four races, she dominated them. Her combined margin of victory in those four tours de force was almost 19 lengths.

Robd’s division runner-up EURYDICE wanted nothing to do with either the good track or Faithfuladaptation in the Grade 1 Scottsdale Stayer. This scratch-bred 4yo bay daughter of Sea the Stars (Sadler’s Wells X Shamardal) is versatile, but her range apparently does not include a track labeled “good.” She was well beaten in the Scottsdale Stayer, but rebounded perfectly in her last two, romping in both a Grade 3 on the turf and the Grade 1 Saturday Night Girl. Her victory in the Saturday Night Girl was particularly impressive, as she opened a ridiculous lead of more than a dozen lengths at the head of the stretch.

Adschus WAR CAT CADET is a 4yo bay daughter of War Front out of the Grade 1-winning Bernardini mare, CADET CAT. This filly’s form disappeared after winning the Grade 1 Desert Lady Stayer over in Simulated Dubai. Despite struggling mightly for most of the year, War Cat Cadet keeps the show money in this division. Essentially, Robby makes a hidden fourth appearance in the EOY review with War Cat Cadet, whom he bred and gifted to adschus. Some kind of gift horse, don’t you think? Cadet Cat has been a dynamo in the breeding shed so far, producing stake winners with each of her first four foals, including a Grade 3 winner and War Cat Cadet, her only Grade 1 winner to date.

Older male dirt long:

  1. TACCO A SPILLO, 2,010,000
  2. TEN LIL WARLORDS, 867,000
  3. FINKE VOYAGER, 642,000

Anytime a horse wins more than twice the stakes purses as his nearest division rival, we may fairly say that horse was dominant. Such is the case with TACCO A SPILLO, a dominant 4yo son of Tapit, out of the graded-placed Sadler’s Wells mare, WELL HEELED. This mare finally struck paydirt in her 12th foal to race. None of the previous 11 were graded winners, and she had some hot dates: A.P. Indy, Dynaformer and Kingmambo among them. None of those foals came even close to the level of achievement of Tacco A Spillo, who won three Grade 1 dirt marathons in 2019, including two dominant victories to close the year.

Spinround’s TEN LIL WARLORDS sure did not look like a horse that ever was going to be featured in the BTB after five starts. Good gosh, this horse started his career like a train wreck. This 5yo gelded brown son of Candy Ride, out of the stakes-winning mare NICE N NASTY, could not run even a little bit when his career began. Shoot, he could not even hit the board in a hot race! Luckily, we were able to catch up with the trainer in the Chat Room. “First off, hats off to Tacco A Spillo. He had the kind of season every trainer dreams of,” Spinround said. “He is a tremendous talent and his cominant victory in the Breeders’ Bowl proves that. My little horse has had a career I never would have imagine din the beginning. Two Grade 1 wins are always a triumph, especially from a horse who showed so little potential early on. It seems like his form is on the decline. Age and wear and tear are catching up to him. But he’s taken me on a tremendous journey and when he can no longer earn in allowances, he has a retiremnt home in the cloud. No more claimers for him.”

Did Vyz have a great year or what? In addition to winning division championships with Outback Anomaly and Outback Barbet, he also checks in third in this division with FINKE VOYAGER. This 5yo bay son of Sea the Stars, out of the EOY Award-winning Montjeu mare OUTBACK VOYAGER, won the Grade 1 Desert Stamina Cup in March, then was second in another Grade 1 before his form pitched off a cliff for his final four races of 2019.

3yo female turf sprint:

  1. SENSE THE MOON, 375,000
  3. INTOXICATE, 345,000

There was not a lot of prize money on offer for the 3yo fillies sprinting on the turf, and as such, we have a close race. Oldmoonfarms represents Only Stayers, and ironically wins an EOY Award in a sprint division with SENSE THE MOON. This 3yo brown daughter of Street Sense, out of a winless Speightstown mare named MOONLIGHT FIRE, was second in the Grade 1 Happy Easter on 420, and won four listed stakes to earn a division championship.

Lawdro’s CARTER CANDLESTICK competed in eight straight listed turf sprints before winning the Grade 3 Range Rover Handicap last out against older fillies and mares. This 3yo brown daughter of No Nay Never, out of the Grade 1-winning Redoute’s Choice mare COLLECTIVE ACTION, was impressively consistent in 2019, missing the board only once and winning four total stakes races.

Gowans represents the Blazing Saddles with INTOXICATE. This 3yo bay daughter of Acclamation, out of a stakes-winning Stormy Atlantic mare named INEBRIATE, does her best running at the ultra-sprint distances of 5 and 5.5 furlongs. She won five listed stake races in 2019.

3yo male turf sprint:

  1. WREAKFUL, 970,000
  2. BATTLEFIELD HERO, 960,000

The tightest race of them all occurred in the 3yo male turf sprint division. Kingdamo represents All-Stars Racing with division champion WREAKFUL, a brown son of Speightstown, out of an allowance-winning Vindication mare named VINDICATIVE. Wreakful earns his EOY award by the slimmest of margins, only $10,000 in stakes earnings. He also won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Turf Sprint by the most narrow of margins. After pressing the pace in second, Wreakful took over with a furlong to run at a whopping 46-1. Then, he was all out to hold off the late charge of SINGLE NINER. He won the BB by just a wee little bit, and now wins an EOY badge by just a wee little bit.

The hard-luck second-place finisher in this division is Nextbonus Bill’s BATTLEFIELD HERO. This 3yo bay son of Dansili came tantalizingly close to a division championship. After winning two Grade 1 races early in the year, Battlefield Hero finished fifth in the Breeders’ Bowl Turf Sprint, beaten only three and a quarter lengths. In that highly consequential race, Battlefield Hero broke alertly to be fourth in the early going, racing shoulder-to-shoulder with eventual place runner SINGLE NINER. Four furlongs into the race, that one was starting to get away from Bill’s horse. Battlefield Hero just could not keep up, and to make matters worse, his 3yo rival Wreakful was sprinting for the wire at 46-1. Single Niner was closing and they hit the wire together. Much to the chagrin of Nextbonus, Wreakful held on, and wrested control of the division away from Battlefield Hero. Nextbonus responded by winning a listed stake, but the purse fell just short of what he needed to win the EOY.

OKDavid196 checks in third in this division with INVINCIBLE SCALES. This 3yo light gray son of Invincible Spirit climbed near the top of this division by pecking away at smaller stakes and mostly avoiding the bright lights of Grade 1 racing. He only tried it once, when a close-up sixth to Battlefield Hero in one of Nextbonus Bill’s purchased Grade 1 races. From that point forward, OKDavid was content to compete successfully in listed stakes and the occasional graded race. Invincible Scales was consistent in what he was asked to do and had a terrific year. He ended on a high note, winning two in a row.

3yo female turf route:

  1. EARTH IS FLAT, 1,207,500
  2. BABYGIRLI’MBLUE, 1,065,000
  3. CADMIUM, 1,035,000

The 3yo female turf route division featured a very close race won by EARTH IS FLAT. Redhill brings a division championship to Blazing Saddles with this 3yo bay daughter of Symboli Kris S., out of the Grade 1-winning Montjeu mare, COLD WORLD. This filly already has two of those pretty gold Grade 1-winning stars on her horse page, for her victories this year in two Grade 1 races, and her mama’s Grade 1 win back in 2013. Add to that a pretty EOY badge, and things are coming up roses in what looks to be a very classy family for Redhill. This filly was brilliantly managed in 2019 and exploded to an impressive 118 speed figure last out when smashing the Grade 1 QE2 Challenge. She has won an EOY award in only nine career starts, and looks to have plenty in the tank for her 4yo season.

Selurvinek represents the Minnesota Testbarn Residency with the runner-up in this division, BABYGIRLI’MBLUE. This 3yo bay daughter of Frankel, out of the graded-placed Sea the Stars mare GIANTS OF INDUSTRY, took the lead in this division in April with a score in the Grade 1 1000 Guineas, going a mile. At that point, BabygirlI’mblue had won four in a row. Then came the blue part. Her form fell apart in the second half of the season, and she missed the board in four straight to finish up 2019.

CADMIUM is a soft, silvery-white metal …. uhhh …. errrr …. is a 3yo bay daughter of New Approach, out of the Grade 2-winning Kingmambo mare KATIMA. Kingmambo in the middle, that’s how they do it in the Sim! Mrenforcer and his rezzy mates at All-Stars Racing know that tune. The primary use of the element cadmium is in the manufacture of batteries, and so the name makes sense because Cadmium the Sim horse is prone to get a lot of quick starts. She usually sets the pace in her races, and won two Grade 1 contests in 2019, including the Yellow Submarine Stakes against older fillies and mares.

3yo male turf route:

  1. BRIGHTBURN, 3,067,500
  2. KENNEDY CAMELOT, 2,171,250
  3. YO BO, 1,563,750

The good doctor himself represents good, old Del Penn National with the division champion in the 3yo turf route division. Our trainer here is none other than AFC, pillar of the famous Super Stables and longtime Sim contender. The Supers won two Derbies which has to be a Sim career highlight, but I am sure Dr. Tony got a big kick out of BRIGHTBURN. This bay 3yo son of Galileo is out of the Hall of Fame Kingmambo mare, LUFTHANSA HEIST. This mare was a Grade 2 winner on the track, but she has been an absolute steal in the breeding shed. Brightburn is her fourth career Grade 1 winner, and she is only a 16yo. The real Lufthansa Heist was a one-time thing, but the sim mare of that name is far from that. Unlike many Galileos which seem to show a propensity for starting their careers slowly, that was never the case with Brightburn. As his name suggests, he was shining early, with a fast turn of foot from the gate and the ability to carry his dominant speed. Brightburn won three Grade 1 races in 2019, all at 10 furlongs. Jockey O. Brim got some thrill rides in 2019, as he was aboard for all of Brightburn’s Grade 1 exploits. His victory two back in the Grade 1 Coxless Stakes against older horses stands as a crowning achievement to an EOY Award-winning season. Condolences to AFC and all of the other friends of Whirlwind, who passed away recently.

Our man Nextbonus Bill makes yet another appearance in our 2019 EOY Awards review with KENNEDY CAMELOT. This 3yo bay son of the English sire Camelot finished third in the 2018 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Turf, and was ready to run when the flag fell on his 3yo season. He won a Grade 2, then went straight to the front and dominated the Grade 1 2000 Guineas. This miler’s form fell into shakiness by the end of the year, missing the exacta in four of his last five. However, the 2000 Guineas is in the bank and Nextbonus Bill has two runners-up in this year’s EOY Awards.

Balata’s great mare BOTWISTED has produced another Grade 1 winner in YO BO. This mare is on the short list of greatest mares in the history of our fine game. She produced four Grade 2 winners before she ever gave a Grade 1 winner. Botwisted broke the Grade 1 ice in 2010 with CROSBY, by Mr. Sidney. Then, her last 10 years of business were just insane. She produced a total of five Grade 1 winners! Just think of it. Think of the Pro sitting at his computer that day back on Nov. 16, 2002. He noticed a slow mare with great breeding. She was by Kingmambo! “That’s how they do it in the Sim,” he thought. Then, the rest was history. By Awesome Again, the 3yo bay colt has won seven of 10 career starts, including dual Grade 1 triumps in the second half of 2019.

3yo female turf long:

  1. SKAFTAFELL, 1,545,000
  2. RHINDLE, 1,189,500
  3. KIZSUN, 1,054,500

Newmarket represents the Universal Racing Club with SKAFTAFELL, a 3yo bay daughter of Acclamation. Skaftafell is the daughter of a hemare, one of the few products of a hemare to be featured in this EOY Awards review. VATNAJOKULL, a scratch-bred by Galileo (Monsun X Red Ransom), won the Grade 1 Japanese 2000 Guineas going 10 furlongs as a 3yo, so the family tradition of success going long on the turf was kept up by Skaftafell. She doubled the Grade 1 victory total of her hemare, 2 to 1. Skaftafell took down this division championship by winning back-to-back Grade 1 races.

Turns out I should have researched the trainers on all the horses in the EOY review before I sent an email to Cadet requesting comment. I did not realize he had yet another horse on this prestigious list. This time, it’s RHINDLE, a gorgeous bay 3yo daughter of Giant’s Causeway, based on the Grade 1-winning Galileo hemare NO CHANCE CADET. Robby only got one shot with No Chance Cadet, and he hit the target bigtime with Rhindle. In only eight starts, Rhindle has risen to near the top of her division, winning more than $1.25 million.

With four clunkers to finish up the year, Rocky’s KIZSUN was looking like a real dark horse by the time the second half of 2019 rolled around. Her failure to add to her stakes points total in her last four tries did nothing to change her place near the top of the division. In April, she destroyed the Grade 1 Sydney Oaks, winning by four, then followed that up with place money in the Grade 1 Oaks de English. Kizsun is the only Grade 1 winner by her sire, Kizune, a son of Deep Impact

3yo male turf long:

  1. MIHALI THE GREAT, 8,475,000
  2. RIZLA’S IMAGE, 3,318,750
  3. SHINE UNDERNEATH, 2,430,000

In a year of remarkably huge seasons, add Lawdro’s MIHALI THE GREAT near the top of the list. This 3yo brown son of Not a Single Doubt would have won Horse of the Year in most years. It was only because of the heroic efforts of all-time Sim greats like Giant’s Kash and Bolden Bidder that Lawdro’s amazing champion colt was relegated to third. However, he’s first in this division, and by a long shot! Mihali the Great dominated 3yo-only Grade 1 turf marathons in 2019, then validated that domination with an ultra-impressive romp to finish out his 2019 season in the Grade 1 Winter Cup against older horses. Congratulations to Lawdro for one of the best seasons any 3yo ever had in our game.

The one chasing Mihali the Great both in the division standings and on the track was Pogook’s speedy RIZLA’S IMAGE. This potent 3yo bay son of Sea the Stars, out of a Grade 1-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Giant’s Rizla, was the first foal for his mare and wow, did he get her off to a great start. Rizla’s Image was right there with Mihali the Great, who was in the process of having a 3yo campaign for the ages. The top two steered clear of each other for most of the year. Rizla’s Image was busy winning three big races. After losing a photo finish to be a hard-luck second in his Grade 1 debut, Rizla’s Image won three straight Grade 1 races: the Jockey Club, the German Darby, and the Saint Legend. Finally, they crossed swords during their last two starts of the season, and Mihali the Great proved decisively best.

Dixie’s SHINE UNDERNEATH finished the year red hot, flying home two back to win the Grade 1 Japanese Saint Legend going away by three open lengths, and following that up with a score in the Grade 3 Lipstick Gold Cup at the long price of 20-1. The New Zealand oddsmaker did not think Shine Underneath could keep up with the higher speed figures on the cutback in distance, but Dixie’s impeccably scratch-bred 3yo bay son of Sea the Stars (Sadler’s Wells X Roberto) was up to the task, earning a career-high 117.

3yo female dirt sprint:

  1. AIR FORCE BONE, 688,750
  2. INVINCIBLE IRISH, 543,750
  3. FIFTY YARDS, 493,750

Ksparrow’s AIR FORCE BONE took a huge lead in this division with twin Grade 3 scores and a triumph in the Grade 1 Priceless in New York on June 29. This 3yo bay daughter of Air Force Blue was in full flight that day, pressing the pace before spurting home clear. She opened an insurmountable lead in the division that day, and it’s a good thing she did. Air Force Bone was called back to the hangar and never flew again for the rest of the year. Three straight clunkers followed her Grade 1 triumph, and she finished the year in desperate fashion, picking up a few extra stakes dollars while third in a listed going the ultra sprint distance of five furlongs. Despite her late slump, she held on for a division championship and a shiny EOY badge.

Derbyking’s INVINCIBLE IRISH did a fine job representing the New Zealand Racing Club in 2019, threatening to win her second division championship. This versatile 3yo bay daughter of I Am Invincible, out of an allowance-winning Exceed and Excel mare named BONDYE, already had won two Grade 1 sprints on the turf and an EOY award as a 2yo before switching to the main track in June. After an even sixth-place run in the Grade 1 Priceless behind eventual division champion Air Force Bone, Invincible Irish arose to ring the bell at 15-1 next out to surprise the Grade 1 Exam Stakes. Remarkably, with that win, she rose into contention in the 3yo dirt sprint division, after having won the 2yo turf EOY the year before. Congratulations to Derbyking on a remarkable filly.

Bigtate05’s FIFTY YARDS struggled in both of her Grade 1 tries, but made enough hay with dual Grade 2 scores to secure the show money in the 3yo female dirt sprint division. This 3yo bay daughter of Mshawish, like the top two fillies in this division, had fallen into poor form by the end of the year. Also like the top two, she had already earned enough stakes dough to keep her place in the Top Three. Fifty Yards won both the Grade 2 Yanta Snez Stakes and the Grade 2 Girl Up Front.

3yo male dirt sprint:

  1. MIGHT AND THUNDER, 1,015,500
  2. HEMP’S DINERO, 813,000
  3. EL GURU, 587,000

DKYoung brings a championship back to the Universal Racing Club with MIGHT AND THUNDER, who topped $1 million in stakes earnings to win the 3yo male dirt sprint division. This 3yo bay gelding is the only graded stakes winner by his affordable sire, Chivalrous. A son of Street Cry, Chivalrous was available recently on a Thursday evening for only 46 BPs. His only graded winner in the Sim is a doozy. DKYoung hit the jackpot with this fantastic colt, getting a division champion from a very affordable sire, and out of a mare who only won allowance. Might and Thunder is by far the classiest member of his family, and that includes the cousins. He proved his class in 2019, winning one each of the three types of graded races. His real coup came two back in the Grade 1 Double F Memorial, when Might and Thunder flew home to get up by a head to beat older horses. Last out, he validated that 12-1 score with a very solid second-place run in the Grade 1 Malibu Sprint, back against 3yo only. Might and Thunder’s gigantic speed figure of 115 was not enough to get him to the winner’s circle that day, but it was enough to get him a nice, shiny EOY badge.

Canyongate’s HEMP’S DINERO gave Might and Thunder a real run for his money. He earned 80 percent of the total of a heck of a 3yo who took down over $1 million in a year. Representing the Minnesota Testbarn Residency, this 3yo light gray son of Liam’s Map, out of the graded-placed Giant’s Causeway mare GLORIANA, ran the EOY Award winner off his feet in the Grade 1 Malibu Sprint. Might and Thunder’s lead was just too big, and the division championship essentially had been decided when Might and Thunder shocked the Grade 1 Double F Memorial at 12-1. I am sure Canyongate and his mates in Minnesota are eager to tangle with the champ again. Last out, Hemp’s Dinero was long gone, cruising on a huge lead of more than four lengths at the head of the lane. That smashing victory pushed the career earnings of Hemp’s Dinero to the good side of the $1 million mark.

Ivanyamil’s EL GURU was third in this division. Great job represening good, old Empire State Racing, Ivan! Congratulation to our rezzy mate on this Grade 1-winning 3yo light gray son of Speightstown. El Guru took down his biggest bucks in the Grade 1 Prince’s Night Stakes in August, when the skies opened up over Simulated Saratoga. As regular railbirds of that hollowed ground know, crazy things can happen when it pours the rain at Saratoga. The track that August day in New York was labeled good. El Guru’s performance was great! He flew home from sixth at the second call to win in ultra-impressive fashion, earning a giant 118 speed fig. In yet another testament to the crazy competitiveness in ESR stakes, El Guru was good enough to rise to No. 3 in his division, but was a head short of victory in an ESR listed event.

3yo female dirt route:

  1. MY AMERICAN LADY, 1,747,500
  2. BIG DATA TEST, 1,535,000
  3. SEEKING HER CAUSE, 1,443,750

Stockswami has risen to a position of dominance among Sim trainers, and his excellence is rewarded with MY AMERICAN LADY, champion of the 3yo female dirt route division. What a hotly contested division this was! They hit the wire together here, with all of the top three earning $1.4 million-plus, and none earning more than $1.8 million. My American Lady, a 3yo brown daughter of American Pharoah, closed the year with a rush, befitting her late running style. She won two straight Grade 1 races going a mile and a quarter and for 3yo only, then validated herself with an impressive third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Distaff. Her 4yo season is off to a strong start. She closed strongly again to be second on Jan. 18 in a Grade 2 while stretching out.

Lenny pulled a major coup in the Breeders’ Bowl Dirt Mile when he scored place money with a longshot 3yo filly named BIG DATA TEST. This 3yo light gray daughter of Tapit, out of a stakes-winning Distorted Humor mare named WHIRLWIND OF FUN, went off at 25-1 in the Breeders’ Bowl. Big Data Test caused a large exacta payoff of more than $500 when second to Stockswami’s KING KAM SEPOY. Three of her last four races are clunkers, but that big run in the BB earned enough stakes dollars for a second-place finish in this division.

Jastables does a great job of representing the brothers and sisters at Empire State Racing with SEEKING HER CAUSE, a gorgeous scratch-bred 3yo brown daughter of Giant’s Causeway (A.P. Indy X Seeking the Gold). Seeking Her Cause ran up to her gigantic pedigree in 2019, winning five in a row at one point. You had to know she was something special when she whacked an ESR listed by two and a quarter. She won the Grade 1 Sister Hen in June at 10-1, then blazed from the gate to set the pace in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Distaff. Seeking Her Cause ran a gigantic race in the Breeders’ Bowl at 28-1, breaking widest of all 14, winning a speed dual and beating division champion My American Lady while winning place money.

3yo male dirt route:

  1. GIANT’S KASH, 11,355,000
  2. SCHUMERSHUTDOWN TB, 2,310,000
  3. ABOVE THRESHOLD, 1,790,000

In what may be the largest margin of victory in any divisional championship in Sim history, Roxyken’s GIANT’S KASH won the 3yo male dirt route division by more than $9 million. While Stoners’ Bolden Bidder gave Giant’s Kash a huge run for his money in the race for Horse of Year, the divisional championship was no contest. Giant’s Kash took control on the first Saturday in May with his triumph in the Grade 1 Bluegrass Derby. While many trainers of Bluegrass Derby champions were going for their final thrill ride, Roxy was just getting started. In this new age of the Sim Iron Horse, Giant’s Kash went on to win the Grade 1 Travelers Stakes, the Grade 1 Eddie Haskell, and topped it all off with a triumph in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Classic. His remarkable 3yo season will stand forever as one of the greatest single seasons in Sim history. It is an honor to pay tribute to this Sim champion for all times.

Testbarn’s SCHUMERSHUTDOWN TB was the one who took advantage when Giant’s Kash spun his wheels in the slop in the Grade 1 Middle Jewel. It poured down the rain that Saturday in Simulated Baltimore, and this 3yo light gray son of Tapit, out of an allowance-winning Medaglia D’Oro mare named META TAG TED, ran the race of his life. Schumershutdown TB freaked in the slop, flying home from ninth to get up by half a length and earn an eye-popping speed figure of 113. He validated his off-track ability in the Grade 1 Travelers, when he came running at the end for a close-up third. His form had become spotty by the end of the year, but no matter. There was no catching Giant’s Kash.

Handshobby’s ABOVE THRESHOLD was second at the head of the lane in the Grade 1 Bluegrass Derby before fading to eighth. It was what he did in Grade 1 company before and after the first Saturday in May which earned him show money in the 3yo male dirt route division. He had won his way into the starting gate in Simulated Louisville with a triumph in the Grade 1 Sand Castle Derby, then was able to hold on for place and show money in the Grade 1 Eddie Haskell and the Grade 1 Labatts Ontario Oaks. This 3yo light gray son of Tapit, out of a graded-placed Uncle Mo mare named MO PYE MO PROBLEMS, was in spotty form by the end of 2019, but so were many of the horses included in this EOY review.

3yo female dirt long:

  1. SERIOUS RUNNING, 2,310,000
  2. THREE DAY BLIZZARD, 182,500
  3. THE JOY OF DOOTSIN, 157,500

Graywolf stunned the Simulated World last summer when he took down the Grade 1 New Yorker with longshot filly SERIOUS RUNNING. By the affordable Medaglia D’Oro sire Den’s Legacy, Serious Running is out the EOY Award-winning A.P. Indy mare COYOTE SMUGGLER. After a spectacular career which saw her win four Grade 1 races, Coyote Smuggler was having a strange and spotty career in the breeding shed before Serious Running came along. It appears Graywolf tried to help out a couple of fellow players with foals from Coyote Smuggler as gift horses in both 2015 and 2016, but neither horse started more than once. This mare nearly made it to the Hall of Fame on the track, and now she’s finally shown up in the shed, and with a cheap sire, to boot. Like her mare, Serious Running took down a big Grade 1 going long on the dirt against boys. She crushed this division with all the money she won in the New Yorker.

Lenny’s third and final horse to appear in the EOY review is THREE DAY BLIZZARD, a 3yo bay daughter of Empire Maker, based on a Grade 2-winning Sidney’s Candy hemare named LONG WHITE SNOW. The family history of Three Day Blizzard starts with a 21yo retired daughter of Seattle Slew named PRIESTESS OF HELM. Trained by Davarto, Priestess of Helm won a Grade 1 in 2002 but never was able to duplicate that success in the breeding shed. That is, until Long White Snow came along and won a Grade 2, then became the hemare of Three Day Blizzard. She did not win much, but it did not take much to get in the Top 3 of a division with little prize money on offer.

Third is GCutty’s THE JOY OF DOOTSIN. Two listed victories and a second-place run in a Grade 3 were enough to push this 3yo light gray daughter of Kitten’s Joy to a Top 3 finish in this division. This filly shows good stamina on the main track. GCutty may be looking forward to a strong 4yo season with this filly, as more graded races come on offer for older fillies and mares going long on dirt. She exited the year in fine form with a dominant listed victory.

3yo male dirt long:

  1. EMPIRE STRIKES NOW, 760,000
  2. INTO BEING NICE, 656,250
  3. DARKPUKU, 180,000

Oakridge delivers a division championship to his mates at the Universal Racing Club with EMPIRE STRIKES NOW, a scratch-bred 3yo bay son of Empire Maker (Tiznow X Smart Strike). It’s rare that a horse wins a division championship based almost entirely on a race he lost, but that’s the anomalous outcome in a division with comparitively few stakes dollars on offer. Normally, the champion of the Grade 1 New Yorker is bound to win this division. With $3 million on offer, the winner of the New Yorker would automatically win the 3yo dirt male long division. However, Graywolf pulled a stunner in the New Yorker with his filly Serious Running. So, the 3yo male dirt long division champion becomes the runner-up, Empire Strikes Now. He followed up his place run in the New Yorker with a victory going shorter in the Grade 2 Shiny Gem, then ran a respectable fourth in the Grade 1 Travelers. His last two races of 2019 were ugly, but that EOY badge will shine just the same.

The runner-up in the 3yo male dirt long division finished the year in much better form than the champion. 4Nighthawk represents All-Stars Racing with
INTO BEING NICE, a 3yo bay son of Into Mischief, out of a Grade 2-winning Street Cry mare named U R NOT NICE. Of all the horses that finished in the runner-up spots in this year’s EOY review, 4Nighthawk may have the best consolation prize. Into Being Nice already has an EOY badge! This amazingly talented horse has carried his form from his dramatic, division-winning 2yo campaign into another near championship season. In fact, the career of Into Being Nice must be accepted as yet another piece of evidence that we have dawned on a new age of the Simulated Iron Horse. Witness the durability of Into Being Nice, who won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile, then went on to hit the board in both the Grade 1 Bluegrass Derby and the Grade 1 New Yorker. As an older 3yo, he has added amazing distance verstatility to his legendary racing record. Into Being Nice finished the year with a second-place run in the Grade 1 Encino Man, going the full marathon distance of two miles. What a crazy great horse this one is!

DARKPUKU takes the show dough here. And now, for the obligatory, I don’t know Rocky, looks like a dark horse to me! Were we in chat, Rocky would now type in a few LOLs, and we would enjoy the same, old joke we’ve always enjoyed. Darkpuku is a 3yo bay son of the affordable Galileo sire The Gurkha, who has produced quite nicely for a sire that was available on a Sunday morning for only 146 BPs. He has produced five graded winners, and a horse like Darkpuku, who has earned his way into the EOY review, is only the seventh-best horse by his sire in the game. There have been some horses in this review who ended the year in poor form, but Rocky once again has taken it to the extreme with Darkpuku.

2yo female turf:

  1. MELANIE, 1,075,000
  2. JUST A WASP, 960,000
  3. DREAM SUMMER, 862,500

Valesa delivers a divisional championship to Empire State Racing with the brilliant turf sprinter MELANIE, winner of three Grade 1 races in her juvenile season. This 2yo bay daughter of Declaration of War, out of the Grade 1-winning Rip Van Winkle mare, HABANERO AMSTERDAM, won five of her final six races in 2019. The only time she lost was when she was asked to race two turns, which is not her game. Melanie’s game is sprinting, and she is very strong at that. She won the Grade 1 Last Hurrah, Grade 1 Chevel and the Grade 1 More Glare Stakes. It was her win in the aptly named Last Hurrah on Dec. 28 which won her the EOY award. Before that, she was trailing Rocky’s JUST A WASP. In an amazing family twist, both mother and daughter won the same Grade 1 race. While Melanie used her triumph in the Grade 1 Chevel as one of her building blocks toward a division championship, that race in 2013 served as the only Grade 1 triumph in the career of her mare, Habanero Amsterdam.

Rocky’s JUST A WASP had such a terrific year, she tricked her owner into thinking she had won an EOY award. While it is true that Just A Wasp reigned supreme in the 2yo female turf route standings, the juvenile standings are reduced to a single division, combining the distances into one contest. As such, Just A Wasp comes up just $115,000 short of a championship. I apologize to Rocky if this writer’s request for BTB comment added to the confusion, as he may not have known that I intended to review the Top 3 in each division. Another possible explanation for the confusion is that the division champ, Melanie, won her third and final Grade 1 very late in the year, on Dec. 28. It was that victory that put her over the top. Just A Wasp, an affordable brown daughter of Just A Way, would have been Rocky’s third EOY winner. He won with the great turfer DARK MANDU in 2015, and ION MY WAY in 2017. Even though Just A Wasp did not win an EOY badge, Rocky still had a tremendous year with his juveniles, winning 12 graded races for 2yo horses.

MTK once again represents Blazing Saddles in exemplary fashion with DREAM SUMMER, who threatened to add yet another shiny badge to a horse page already loaded with impressive accomplishment. Dream Summer earned a Grade 1 badge when dominant last out in winning the Grade 1 Juvenile Filly on Dec. 8 in Japan. This is not to be confused with the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Filly Juvy Turf, where Dream Summer finished second by half a length to Deyoto’s EIFFEL ROSE. It was that half-length that stood between Dream Summer and a divisional championship. She earned $187,500 for finishing second in the Breeders’ Bowl, and would have earned $450,000 had she won. That’s a difference of more than $260,000, which would have been enough to place her above Melanie. In winning a Grade 1, she adds to the accomplishments of her HOF mare. CRUEL SUMMER, a 14yo daughter of Storm Cat, won a Grade 1 on the track, but has been bananas in the breeding shed, giving three Grade 1 winners so far.

2yo male turf:

  1. EPSILON CENTAURI, 1,290,000
  2. STAR OF THUNDER, 1,271,250
  3. BUSINESS MEETING, 1,035,000

It was a photo finish in the 2yo male turf division, and the nod went to Sparrow’s EPSILON CENTAURI. This 2yo light gray son of Mastercraftsman climbed right up the graded ladder in 2019. He won a Grade 3, then he won a Grade 2, then he won a Grade 1. Those victories all came at six furlongs, and when Sparrow looked to stretch the colt out to further distances, he ran into trouble. First, Epsilon Centauri faded to third when stretched out to seven furlongs in the Grade 1 Duetoburst Stakes. Then, in his final race of his championship season, he lifted not a hoof when a disinterested 12th stretched out to a mile in the Grade 1 Futurity. It seems a shame that such a fine season would end on a sour note, but that shiny EOY badge will have to serve as the supreme consolation.

So close. Only $19,000 in stakes earnings separated Corza’s STAR OF THUNDER from a divisional championship. This 2yo bay son of the Australian sire Zoustar, out of a stakes-placed Storm Cat mare named SOUNDS OF THUNDER, flew home from 10th at the head of the lane to win the Grade 1 Duetoburst. Coupled with his earnings from a Grade 1 win in Ireland in June, and Corza’s colt had rocketed into contention for a division championship. He came so close. Star of Thunder closed very strongly in the Grade 1 Futurity, coming up a length and a quarter short while second. It is that small margin that cost him an EOY badge. What a race it was in this division.

Gowans’ BUSINESS MEETING was not far back of the top two, with more than $1 million in stakes earnings. This 2yo bay son of NOT A SINGLE DOUBT, out of a stakes-winning Invincible Spirit mare named BUSINESS DECISION, rose to contention in the 2yo male turf division with his impressive sprint ability. He won the Grade 1 Nonethorpe going the ultra-sprint distance of five furlongs, then sprinted away from the Grade 1 Middlepark Stakes going six furlongs. If Gowans’ colt could handle the stretch to a mile in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Turf, he could win an EOY Award. It was not to be. The mile was too much ground and Business Meeting was temporarily closed. However, his 2yo season remains a sterling Sim achievement, with dual Grade 1 wins.

2yo female dirt:

  1. APATHETIC GURU, 1,440,000
  2. BOWLEGGED MULE, 765,000
  3. AMERICAN GOER, 708,750

Tenpoint delivers a divisional championship to All Stars Racing with APATHETIC GURU. This impeccable scratch-bred 2yo bay daughter of Distorted Humor (Seattle Slew X Storm Cat) won seven of her eight races in 2019, including a triumph in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly. She also won two Grade 2 races along with a Grade 3 for a stakes earnings nearly twice her nearest divisional pursuer. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect season for a 2yo filly. Congratulations go to Tenpoint.

What a huge year for Desert Dog, whose Trash Panda won the older fillies and mares turf sprint division, and whose BOWLEGGED MULE finishes a distant second in the 2yo female dirt division. Bowlegged Mule, a scratch-bred 2yo light gray daughter of Army Mule (Rubiano X Indian Charlie), is ranked No. 1 in her dirt sprint division, and just was not playing her game when up the track in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly.

Hooray for Jastables! Our residency mate at Empire State Racing has two horses in the EOY review. The second one is AMERICAN GOER, a 2yo scratch-bred brown daughter of American Pharoah (A.P. Indy X Easy Goer). Jastables also trains Seeking Her Cause, who threatened to win the 3yo female dirt route division. American Goer won the Grade 1 Frickazee before settling for show money in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly.

2yo male dirt:

  1. GENERAL CROOK, 1,593,750
  2. ZERO POINT ZERO, 805,000
  3. JUNGLE PIRATE, 802,500

Only one horse beat Pleasnttap’s GENERAL CROOK in 2019. In six starts, this amazing 2yo bay son of Union Rags, out of the equally amazing EOY-winning Bernardini mare FIRST DEGREE BERN, lost only once, and was second when he did. This family is incredible! First Degree Bern had a huge career on the track, finishing second in the 2013 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly, before going on to win the 2014 Bluegrass Oaks. She was not done there! She then went on to win the 2014 running of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Distaff. No way she could top that in the breeding shed, right? Look again. General Crook is the second foal out of First Degree Bern to win an EOY award. Her first champion was LOW FIDELITY, a son of Broken Vow who had a habit of finishing second in the Sim’s biggest races. Second in the Bluegrass Derby, New Yorker and BB Classic got him first in the 3yo dirt route division. We can only wonder what might be next for First Degree Bern, as she is only a 9yo and more than 10 years of production left before her. General Crook may not yet be done, either, with only six starts under his belt.

Another highly regal Sim family is represented in second place in the 2yo male dirt division. Tisjuliet’s ZERO POINT ZERO is a 2yo bay son of Quality Road, out of the remarkable Hall of Fame Storm Cat mare, ZERO TOLERANCE II. Wow, what a mare! When he won the Grade 1 Hopeless Stakes on Sept. 1, Zero Point Zero became the third Grade 1 winner for his prolific broodmare, and pushed her into the HOF. Zero Tolerance II has been on a gigantic roll of late. She has produced Grade 1 winners in three of her last four breeding seasons.

Finally, we have JUNGLE PIRATE, a scratch-bred 2yo chestnut son of Lion Heart (Dehere X Caro), who was undefeated after six starts for the enthusiastic new player Jubalrutledge, representing the Northwest Racing Circuit. Jungle Pirate only took on misstep in 2019, when racing beyond his distance capability in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile. Not that Jubal made any mistake by taking his shot. Jungle Pirate deserved his place in the starting gate on Breeders’ Bowl day. It was nice to see him go right back to his sprinting self last out, when a stout second in a Grade 2 back at his bailiwick of six furlongs.


23 thoughts on “Epic battle for Horse of Year highlights 2019 EOY Awards

  • January 21, 2020 at 5:17 am

    Wow! Brilliant! I especially enjoyed the extensive coverage of the also rans.

    Thank you very much, Itch!

  • January 21, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Itch you are a legend and have done an amazing job yet again thankyou hope they are paying you well.
    Congratulations to all the winners!

  • January 21, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    Itch, thanks for the article. Was great reading the entire thing.

  • January 21, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I had no idea that EURYDICE was anywhere near an award here.

    She is a 16f turf specialist but as there is only one race each year for her, she has to run mainly on dirt.

    Great to see all this laid out like this as it makes interesting reading.



  • January 21, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks so much for the detailed write up! I hadn’t realized it was so close. I just found out that you were looking for me 😀 Next time send me a PM.

  • January 21, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    good bye game my this will be may last season playing I will be throwing all my steeds in the auction soon ,congrats to all winners

  • January 21, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    It’s such an honor, thank you all for consideration. It’s been a longtime and I think I speak for many, sometimes you think you aren’t getting anywhere. I’m very honored and humbled. Thank you

  • January 21, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    Only a true Buckeye could write something this GREAT!!! Well done Itch!

  • January 22, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Outstanding article. Deserving of a AOY (article of the year) badge.

  • January 22, 2020 at 1:50 am

    Another superb job Itch.

    Did I really say all those things?


  • January 22, 2020 at 3:25 am

    Wow thanks everybody for all the kind words.

    It was an honor.

  • January 22, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Just now got a chance to read it and wanted to say what a fantastic job you did!

  • January 23, 2020 at 1:25 am

    Wait a minute- besides a stellar review, which is an outrageous read- I had an Eclipse winner? Damn, man. I didn’t even know Brightburn was up.
    At any rate, thanks. I would like to dedicate it to the memory of JC.
    Itch- speechless. What a piece.

  • January 23, 2020 at 2:17 am

    That’s a great idea, AFC: To Whirlwind!

    One night in chat, Jeff and I got to talking about music, and he dropped two recommendations on me. They were Fela Kuti and King Sunny. I think I had mentioned that I liked Parliament Funkadelic, and he said anybody who likes Parliament needs to know about Afrobeat. I have gone on to become a big fan of both, and Fela in particular.

    One of my best horses I have had in training in recent years was named AFROBEATNIK.

    I appreciate the compliments very much.

    Cheers to all!

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