BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two Maryland-breds, Knicks Go and Aloha West, are finalists for horse racing’s Eclipse Awards, with Knicks Go a favorite to win Horse of the Year, one of the highest honors in the sport.
The award winners are being announced Thursday night at Santa Anita Park in California.
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Winner of five graded-stakes races, including the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic, Knicks Go collected more than $7.3 million in purse money as a 5-year-old last year. He’s also a favorite to capture the Older Dirt Male category after winning five of seven races in 2021, including the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes and Whitney Stakes.
Following the 2022 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, in which he finished second to Life Is Good, Knicks Go retired to stand stud at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Angie Moore and daughter Sabrina bred Knicks Go (by Paynter out of Kosmo’s Buddy) at GreenMount Farm in Reisterstown.
In December, Sabrina Moore told WJZ’s Denise Koch was a bit stubborn as a foal.
“He was a tough baby but not in a bad way,” she said. “He just kind of knew what he wanted and he did it.”
The gray stallion became the first Maryland-bred horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic since Cigar in 1995. The year prior, another horse from Maryland, Concern, won the Classic for owner and breeder Robert E. Meyerhoff.
Knicks Go’s trainer, Brad Cox, and jockey, Joel Rosario, are finalists in their respective categories.
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Aloha West, a 5-year-old bred by Robert T. Manfuso and Katharine M. Voss in 2017, is a finalist in the Male Sprinter category after winning five times in nine starts, including the Grade 1 Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and earning $1.3 million.
The son of Hard Spun and Island Bound finished second in his only other graded-stakes race, the Grade 2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland.
Per the magazine Maryland Horse15 other Maryland-breds have won Eclipse Awards, with the most recent being Good Night Shirt, who was named Champion Steeplechaser in back-to-back years, 2007 and 2008.
Since the Eclipse Awards were created in 1971, Cigar is the only Maryland-bred to win Horse of the Year, taking the title in 1995 and again in 1996.
The last thoroughbred to win was Declan’s Moon, the Champion 2-Year-Old Colt in 2004.
Elsewhere in Maryland, teenager Charlie Marquez is a finalist among apprentice jockeys after winning 50 races from 290 mounts, primarily at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.
“I’ve wanted to be a jockey since I was born, its something I’ve always wanted to do,” he told WJZ’s Annie Rose Ramos last May.
The annual Eclipse Awards are voted on by representatives from the Daily Racing Form, National Thoroughbred Racing Association and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.
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There are 17 equine and human categories.