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For the third consecutive year, the Eclipse Awards crowned a female as
Horse of the Year, as Havre De Grace took home the honor. 2011 was a
year that didn’t have a breakout horse that captured racing fans’
imaginations, but instead brought forth a horse who was tremendously
consistent and has an owner and trainer who could use a “feel good”
In 2008, owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones were devastated
after their star filly, Eight Belles, had to be euthanized on the
track after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby. Just three years
later the two are together again and celebrating Havre De Grace’s
victory in Beverly Hills. Jones had retired in 2010, but was brought
back to training full-time after Porter coerced him into giving Havre
De Grace a look. The results have been fantastic. Overall, she has
posted eight victories in 15 starts, but she really emerged in 2011,
finishing in the money in six of her seven races, including five wins.
Among those five wins were three Grade 1 stakes races, including
winning the Woodward at Saratoga.  Rick Porter was both reflective and
appreciate of the honor given to his fantastic thoroughbred; “As many
of you know, I’ve seen the lowest of lows in horse racing and I’ve
seen a lot of highs, but nothing rivals Havre de Grace,” Porter told
the audience at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “She did it her way. She
won the big races when it counted.”
Other Eclipse Award winners included Bill Mott, for Trainer of the
Year and Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom who took home the award
for the top three-year-old male. In the two-year-old category, My Miss
Aurelia and Hansen took home honors for being the top female and male
respectively. My Miss Aurelia, who is trained by five-time Eclipse
winner Steve Asmussen, was a winner in all four of her 2011 starts,
which included the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for fillies. The Michael
Maker trained Hansen, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes for
males, never trailed in any of his 2011 races and is looking towards a
possible run in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
It’s never too early to start making your plans to attend the Kentucky
Derby. Historic Churchill Downs is the place for horse racing fans to
be on the first Saturday of May as the world’s finest three-year-old
thoroughbreds run for the roses! Let be your one stop
shop for Kentucky Derby tickets and ticket packages. Simply phone
877-DERBYKY or surf the web over to and find out
about all the services they have to offer. They have an “Early Bird”
special going on right now, so don’t delay!