Apprentice jockey Jose Montano claimed the first Eclipse award – human or equine – for Charles Town.
The 26-year-old topped North American-based apprentices with 226 wins in 2012 (187 with the bug). Longtime agent Billy Kennedy said, “I told him it’s an honor to get nominated and he should enjoy it, but they don’t usually vote for people like you because you ride at Charles Town.” With 127 votes, Montano easily outpaced runner up Irad Ortiz Jr. (who lost his bug in early February 2012).
- Ben’s Cat repeated as Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, champion turf horse and champion older male, as the son of Parker’s Storm Cat won five of nine starts in 2012 at age 6 and became a millionaire. His lifetime earnings stood at more than $1.35 million, placing him 11th on the state’s all-time leading earners list.
- Maryland-bred Barbecue Eddie’s far-flung career saw him get his first stakes win at age 9 in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 at Meydan in Dubai. Owned by Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trained by Doug Watson, he won his fourth race in a row and 10th overall in 36 starts while earning more than $900,000. After launching his career in California at 3 and placing in five stakes in 11 starts, four graded, including the Grade 1 Ancient Title, he moved to Dubai in 2008.
- Champion sprinter Orientate, winner of the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1 and that year’s Eclipse award, and a successful Grade 1 sire, arrived at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. The syndicated 15-year-old former Gainesway stallion was the sire of 35 stakes winners in seven crops, with total progeny earnings of more than $34 million. His nearly $4.9 million in progeny earnings in 2012 was the most of any stallion set to stand the upcoming season in Maryland.
- Year-end statistical highlights in 2012: Pennsylvania had the most stakes winners in the region with 52, 11 graded; the region’s leading sire was Pennsylvania-based E Dubai with more than $8 million; and the region’s richest runner was twice classic-placed Virginia-bred Bodemeister. The Audley Farm-bred colt retired with six career starts at 3, earning $1,304,800.