LEXINGTON, Ky. (December 31, 2019) – Fourteen of the most memorable, significant and reflective events from the last 12 months of Thoroughbred racing are up for the 2019 NTRA Moment of the Year, a distinction determined by fan voting and recognized at The Eclipse Awards. Voting is now open on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) website, NTRA.com, and via Twitter, where every retweet or use of the official hashtag for the moments as presented on the @NTRA account will be counted as one vote.
To vote on the NTRA website, go to https://www.ntra.com/eclipse-awards/2019-moment-of-the-year/.
The NTRA Moment of the Year will be revealed during the 49th Annual Eclipse Awards, set for January 23 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The eligible 2019 moments were selected to illustrate the wide range of human emotions and achievements, as well as outstanding displays of athleticism. Events that fans can choose from are listed chronologically as follows, along with the designated hashtag that can be used to vote:
#ThunderSnowDWC – Godolphin’s homebred made history when he edged Gronkowski at the wire to become the Dubai World Cup’s first two-time winner. A Group 1 winner at ages 2, 3, 4, and 5, the son of Helmet would go on to finish third in the Metropolitan Handicap on June 8 before being retired in November with more than $16.5 million in career earnings. (March 30)
#MaximumSecurityDQ – The 145th Kentucky Derby will live in infamy as Maximum Security crossed the wire first but was disqualified due to interference, elevating Country House to the victory. Maximum Security became the first horse disqualified from a Kentucky Derby triumph due to an in-race foul, prompting owners Gary and Mary West to file a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which was ultimately dismissed. Despite the disqualification, Maximum Security stamped himself the leading candidate for divisional honors with subsequent victories in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap. (May 4)
#BodexpressRun – After unseating jockey John Velazquez at the start of the Preakness Stakes, Bodexpress proceeded to take a joyride alongside the field around the Pimlico Racecourse oval before being caught by outrider Kaymarie Kreidel. That ‘born free’ moment turned Bodexpress into a social media sensation and he later proved he could do some real running by winning two of his next three starts. (May 18)
#MitoleMet – With six Grade/Group 1 winners in its field, the 2019 Metropolitan Handicap was arguably the most loaded race on the Belmont Stakes card and it lived up to the hype as Mitole prevailed by three quarters of a length over McKinzie. The Met Mile was one of four Grade 1 wins on the year for Mitole, who capped his career off with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. (June 8)
#GoodbyeMarylou – Thoroughbred racing lost a member of its royal family when Marylou Whitney, the “Queen of Saratoga”, died at the age of 93. In addition to being one of the most successful owners in Thoroughbred racing, Whitney was known for her philanthropic contributions and immeasurable passion for the sport – particularly for the city of Saratoga Springs. She was presented with an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2010 for her contributions to racing and elected to The Jockey Club in 2011. (July 19)
#CovfefeTest – In a duel that invoked memories of the 2002 battle between You and Carson Hollow, eventual Breeders’ Cup winner Covfeve matched strides with Kentucky Oaks heroine Serengeti Empress to the wire before getting up by a half a length. That victory marked the first Grade 1 win for Covfefe and was one of five victories on the year for the filly, who likely cemented divisional honors with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. (August 3)
#ChadSweep – In one of the most impressive displays of strength from his powerhouse stable, three-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown saddled the winners of all four graded stakes – including three Grade 1 races – on the Arlington Million card. Brown scored with champion Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Beverly D. and Valid Point in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes before taking the signature event with Bricks and Mortar – the favorite for 2019 Horse of the Year honors. Brown also won the day’s finale, the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes, with Café Americano. (August 10)
#FourStarStormy – Owner Gary Barber’s decision to wheel his filly Got Stormy back in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap seven days after she captured the De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga paid dividends as she bested eventual Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Uni to become the first filly to capture the race, doing so in course-record fashion. Trained by Mark Casse, Got Stormy would go on to finish second in both the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile before closing out her campaign with a victory in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar. (August 10)
#BisouBest – The third and final meeting of the season between Grade 1 winners Midnight Bisou and Elate proved among the most stirring races of the year with Midnight Bisou running down her rival in the final strides to win by a nose. Midnight Bisou previously defeated Elate in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes and Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap and brought a seven-race win streak into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she ran second. (August 24)
#OmahaBeachSprint – In his first start since winning the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in April, Omaha Beach showcased his versatility when he caught Shancelot in deep stretch to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes. Trained by Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach was the morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby before having to miss the race due to a throat ailment. Omaha Beach closed out his 2019 campaign with a victory in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita Park. (October 5)
#BelvoirBayBC – Less than two years after having to run for her life during the Lilac Fire that decimated San Luis Rey Training Center, Belvoir Bay again demonstrated her heart when she toppled male rivals to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in course-record time. The 6-year-old mare went missing for days after the fire hit in December 2017 and spent time receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatments to recover from her injuries. She was a force in her own right in 2019, winning three starts and finishing a close second to Blue Point in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in March. (November 2)
#BricksBC – After having his career nearly derailed in 2017, Bricks and Mortar stamped himself the favorite for 2019 Horse of the Year honors when he capped an unbeaten campaign with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The son of Giant’s Causeway was sidelined for more than a year after undergoing surgery for a severe stringhalt condition in 2017 but has not lost since returning to the races in December 2018. His victory in the Breeders’ Cup was his sixth victory of 2019, five of which came in Grade 1 races. (November 2)
#VinoRossoBC – Vino Rosso provided trainer Todd Pletcher one of the few accolades missing from the seven-time Eclipse Award winner’s resume when he captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic to give his conditioner his first victory in the prestigious test. Vino Rosso previously won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park in May and looked every bit at home over the oval again in the Breeders’ Cup as he rolled to a 4 ¼ length triumph. (November 2)
#IradBC – Irad Ortiz Jr. showed again why he is one of the best riders in the game when he booted home four winners during the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Ortiz’s victories began in the first championship race on Four Wheel Drive in Friday’s Juvenile Turf Sprint. He also won on Spun to Run in the Dirt Mile, Bricks and Mortar in the Turf and capped it off in the finale with a score on Vino Rosso in the Classic. (November 1 and 2)
Fans are permitted to vote for multiple moments but there is a limit of one vote per moment for each Twitter account. Subsequent votes from an account will be disqualified. Votes must be submitted by January 17 at 11:59 p.m. (ET).
Past Moments of the Year
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes.
Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was a historic victory by the filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. For 2012, the recovery of Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story. In 2013, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections. The 2014 award went to California Chrome’s dominant win in Kentucky Derby 140. In 2015 there was a landslide vote in favor of American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown-clinching Belmont Stakes win. In 2016, California Chrome was again part of the winning moment – a dramatic Dubai World Cup victory that came as Victor Espinoza’s saddle slipped out from underneath him.
In 2017, the tragic fire at San Luis Rey and the industry’s response led the way among the votes cast while Justify’s sweep of the Classics to become just the 13th Triple Crown winner was the clear pick last year.
Eclipse Awards tickets are available for $425 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. Blocks of rooms have been reserved for Eclipse Awards guests at The Diplomat Beach Resort. Additional details can be found on the website at NTRA.com/eclipse-awards.
About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance; NTRA.com; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).