It’s been quite the run for the ladies in the world of horse racing, one that Havre de Grace continued on the January 16th by winning this year’s Horse of the Year title. Havre de Grace, the daughter of Saint Liam–who took home Horse of the Year honors himself in 2005, is the third consecutive female to take the prize at the annual Eclipse Awards dinner. She also won champion older mare of the season as well.
Havre de Grace, trained by industry leader Larry Jones, beat out older male champion of the year and Acclamation winner Cape Blanco for the top prize of the season. Based on the words of Fox Hill Farm owner Rick Porter, it should come as no surprise that Havre de Grace was able to best Cape Blanco, the top turf horse of the year.
“She is the perfect horse. She did it her way,” said Porter. “She won the big races when it counted.”
And win she did, including the prized Saratoga’s Woodward Stakes–her most important first-place finish of the year, against a tough group of males. The same feat was matched by the two previous winners of Horse of the Year honors, fellow females Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.
After 2010 season in which Havre de Grace battled top competitor Blind Luck for superiority, with three photo finishes in four matches to boot, Porter changed things up with an eye toward 2011. He switched Havre de Grace from training with Tony Dutrow to a new slot with Jones, which instantly paid dividends. She beat Blind Luck by a solid 3 and ¼ lengths in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes, and then followed up that performance by beating Grade 1 winner Switch in the Apple Blossom Handicap for first place. Next, she took home an easy victory at Delaware Park’s Obeah Stakes, and then beat Blind Luck once again in her next race by just a nose.
Havre de Grace continued her winning ways thereafter, and finished the season with an impressive five wins in seven starts and took home a fancy $1.6 million.