In most of his races, Knicks Go has gone straight to the front and never looked back. The same was true in the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll.
The Maryland-bred son of Paynter won three Grade 1 events in 2021, capping off his stellar season – one that will likely net him Horse of the Year honors – with a front-running score in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Likewise, Knicks Go was rated the top Midlantic-bred in every poll conducted in 2021 and now has been named to Top Midlantic-bred of 2021.
It’s the second straight year he’s earned Top Midlantic-bred honors. He’s the first horse to win the crown in back-to-back seasons. Stellar Wind was named Top Midlantic-bred twice, as well, but non-consecutively, taking the honors in 2015 and 2017.
“To see him win this award not once but twice is incredible,” said Sabrina Moore, who along with her mother Angie bred Knicks Go. “It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m so grateful for it.”
Knicks Go won five of seven starts in 2021 while earning over $7.3 million. In addition to his Breeders’ Cup score, he posted Grade 1 triumphs in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park and Whitney Stakes at Saratoga.
Knicks Go is trained by Brad Cox for Korea Racing Authority, which purchased him for $87,000 as a yearling. He previously had been sold for $40,000 as a weanling.
For the first time ever, two Maryland-breds won Breeders’ Cup races in the same year. Aloha West scored the upset in the Sprint, rallying to win a thriller.
“We are so proud that Knicks Go has been recognized for this honor as the top Midlantic-bred. We have all had so much fun following his stellar career,” said Cricket Goodall, executive director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. “It has been quite a year for Maryland-breds on the national stage with Knicks Go and Aloha West. Every breeder dreams of producing horses like these. It is what keeps people in this business!”
In a sense, Knicks Go’s story begins in September 2010. That’s when the Moores, as GreenMount Farm, dropped $40,000 to claim the Outflanker mare Kosmo’s Buddy from a race at Laurel Park.
That claim, on the advice of bloodstock agent Don Litz, represented a change in direction for the fledgling GreenMount operation.
“We had been breeding to race, but that was getting really expensive,” said Sabrina Moore. “We decided to try breeding to sell.”
Bill Reightler, a bloodstock agent who regularly advises GreenMount on breeding decisions, suggested they send Kosmo’s Buddy to then-new stallion Paynter, a son of Awesome Again whose racing career had been interrupted by a bout of colitis and then laminitis.
The result of that breeding was Knicks Go, who won a Grade 1 race as a two-year-old, had an entirely forgettable three-year-old season, and then emerged in his four-year-old season, finishing his career with eight wins in his final 10 starts, winning both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Following Knicks Go in second in the final Top Midlantic-bred Poll of 2021 was the Maryland-bred Aloha West, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in just his second stakes start. Chub Wagon, the speedy Pennsylvania-bred filly who won eight of nine starts on the season was third.
They were followed by Field Pass (MD), Chess Chief (VA), and Beren (PA). Farther behind were Cordmaker (MD), Jaxon Traveler (MD), Caravel (PA), and Street Lute (MD).
“From two Maryland-breds winning at the Breeders’ Cup to the remarkable stories of Chub Wagon and Caravel to the durability and class of Cordmaker, it’s been a stellar year for Midlantic-breds,” said Frank Vespe, owner and publisher of The Racing Biz, which cosponsors the poll. “We’re proud to recognize these Midlantic-breds as the best of 2021.”
Of the top 10, six were bred in Maryland, with three bred in Pennsylvania. One, Chess Chief, was bred in Virginia. Seven of the top 10 were males, and three were females.
The monthly Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred is the only publication devoted to Thoroughbred breeding and racing in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Racing Biz, an online publication, is the independent voice for mid-Atlantic racing and breeding.
The poll is conducted of media members and others involved in the Thoroughbred industry and restricted to horses that have run in 2021 and were bred in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Carolinas.
- Knicks Go (MD), 5H by Paynter-Kosmo’s Buddy, by Outflanker; bred by Angie Moore and trained by Brad Cox for Korea Racing Authority. 2021 highlights: Won G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, G1 Whitney S., G1 Pegasus World Cup, G3 Lukas Classic, G3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. Last month: 1
- Aloha West (MD), 4C by Hard Spun-Island Bound, by Speightstown; bred by Robert Manfuso and Katharine Voss and trained by Wayne Catalano for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. 2021 highlights: Won G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, 2nd G2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix S. Last month: 2
- Chub Wagon (PA), 4F by Hey Chub-Takin the Plunge, by Lion Heart; bred by Joe-Dan Farm and George Chestnut and trained by Guadalupe Preciado for Daniel Lopez and George Chestnut. 2021 highlights: Won Plum Pretty S., Roamin Rachel S., Dashing Beauty S., Shine Again S., Skipat S., Unique Bella S. Last month: 3
- Field Pass (MD), 4C by Lemon Drop Kid-Only Me, by Runaway Groom; bred by Mark Brown Grier and trained by Michael Maker for Three Diamonds Farm. 2021 highlights: Won G2 Seabiscuit H., G3 BWI Turf Cup. Last month: 4
- Chess Chief (VA), 5H by Into Mischief-Un Blessed, by Mineshaft; bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm and trained by Dallas Stewart for Estate of James Coleman, Jr.. 2021 highlights: Won G2 New Orleans Classic, Tenacious S., 3rd G2 Alysheba, 3rd G3 Mineshaft. Last month: 8
- Beren (PA), 3C by Weigelia-Silmaril, by Diamond; bred by Susan Quick and Christopher Feifarek and trained by Butch Reid for St. Omer’s Farm and Christopher Feifarek. 2021 highlights: Won Danzig S., Parx Summer Sprint S., Gold Fever S., Paradise Creek S., Crowd Pleaser S. Last month: 5
- Cordmaker (MD), 6G by Curlin-Tanca, by Polish Numbers; bred by Robert Manfuso and Katharine Voss and trained by Rodney Jenkins for Hillwood Stables LLC. 2021 highlights: Won Robert Manfuso S., Richard W. Small S., Victory Gallop S., Harrison Johnson Memorial S. Last month: 10
- Jaxon Traveler (MD), 3C by Munnings-Listen Boy, by After Market; bred by Dr. & Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau and trained by Steve Asmussen for West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner. 2021 highlights: Won Star de Naskra S., Bachelor Stakes, 2nd G3 Chick Lang S., 3rd G3 Quick Call S. Last month: 6
- Caravel (PA), 4F by Mizzen Mast-Zeezee Zoomzoom, by Congrats; bred by Elizabeth Merryman and trained by Graham Motion for Bobby Flay and Elizabeth Merryman. 2021 highlights: Won G3 Caress S., Goldwood S., The Very One S., 3rd G1 Highlander S. Last month: 7
- Street Lute (MD), 3F by Street Magician-Alottalute, by Midnight Lute; bred by Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Bowman & Dr. Brooke Bowman and trained by John Robb for Lucky 7 Stables. 2021 highlights: Won Tax Free Shopping Distaff S., Stormy Blues S., Xtra Heat S., Wide Country S. Last month: Also receiving votes
Also receiving votes: Muad’dib, Leader of the Band, Horologist, Hello Beautiful, The Critical Way, Vault, Whereshetoldmetogo, Star of Night, Exculpatory, Midnight Obsession, Largent
Note: All horses listed at 2021 ages.
Participating Voters: Ted Black (freelance writer), Michael Campbell (Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey), Joe Clancy (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Cindy Deubler (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Linda Dougherty (freelance), Debbie Easter (Virginia Thoroughbred Association), Paul Espinosa (Charles Town Races), Sara Gordon (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Cricket Goodall (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Sara Gordon (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Jim Hague (freelance), Nick Hahn (freelance), Carol Holden (West Virginia Breeders Classics), Tom LaMarra (Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association), Jeff Nations (freelance), Vinnie Perrone (freelance), Frank Petramalo (Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association), John Piassek (freelance), Gary Quill (The Racing Biz), David Richardson (Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association), Brian Sanfratello (Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association), Chris Sobocinski (Delaware Park), Dan Tordjman (freelance), Frank Vespe (The Racing Biz), Bill Watson (freelance), Lydia Williams (freelance), Bobby Zen (freelance).
PREVIOUS TOP MIDLANTIC-BREDS
2014: Ben’s Cat
2015: Stellar Wind
2016: Cathryn Sophia
2017: Stellar Wind
2018: Shamrock Rose
2020: Knicks Go
2021: Knicks Go