Brad Cox is America’s champion trainer and Authentic named Horse of the Year at Eclipse Awards

Horse Racing Brad Cox trainer
Brad Cox: America’s champion trainer for the first time. Photo: Keeneland/Coady

By Nicholas Godfrey

USA: Brad Cox has landed his first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer – which means in effect he is America’s champion trainer for the first time.

The 50th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony took place on Thursday [Jan 28], presented in virtual fashion from Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, home of Authentic, who to nobody’s enormous surprise was voted Horse of the Year after his exploits in winning the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The son of Into Mischief won 224 of the available 238 votes to become the fourth Bob Baffert-trained horse to win the most prestigious accolade in US racing after Point Given (2001), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018).

Horse Racing Authentic Breeders' Cup Classic
Horse of the Year Authentic (John Velazquez) wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. Photo: Breeders Cup/Eclipse Sportswire (Alex Evers)

However, despite Authentic’s achievements, four-time Eclipse winner Baffert himself was outpolled by 40-year-old Cox, who won by 106 votes to 69 in the trainers’ category, where Steve Asmussen (421) came third with 44 votes after finishing number one in victories and prize-money ($20.1m).

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Horses trained by Cox, who won last weekend’s Pegasus World Cup with Knicks Go, earned more than $18.9m and won 216 races in 2020. The Kentucky native won four Breeders’ Cup contests – with Aunt Pearl, Knicks Go, Essential Quality and Monomoy Girl – plus a Kentucky Oaks with Shedaresthedevil.

Monomoy Girl and Essential Quality also earned champion status in their respective divisions, namely Older Dirt Female and Two-Year-Old Colt.

Godolphin, owners of Essential Quality, won their third Eclipse Award as Outstanding Owner. Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable also tied for the award in 2006.

The Eclipse Awards represent the highest level of achievement in American racing; there is no equivalent in most major racing nations. The Cartiers in Britain, for example, do not come close.

They are decided by a voting panel comprising the NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association), consisting of member racetrack racing officials and Equibase field personnel, Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the national turf writers and broadcasters.

Eclipse Award champions for 2020

Horse of the Year Authentic
2yo male Essential Quality
2yo filly Vequist
3yo male Authentic
3yo filly Swiss Skydiver
Older dirt male Improbable
Older dirt female Monomoy Girl
Sprint male Whitmore
Sprint female Gamine
Turf male Channel Maker
Turf female Rushing Fall
Steeplechaser Moscato
Owner Godolphin LLC
Breeder: WinStar Farm LLC
Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Apprentice Alexander Crispin
Trainer Brad Cox

• Visit the NTRA website

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