Hudson River Farms’ Winston C, a newcomer to American racing who easily won Saratoga Race Course’s two Grade 1 jump races, was honored Thursday evening with the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion steeplechase horse in 2019.
An Irish-bred gelding by Galileo’s son Rip Van Winkle, Winston C prevailed in the Eclipse voting over two other Grade 1 winners: Michael Buckley’s Brain Power, who invaded from England to win Far Hills’ Grand National, and Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer, the 2017 Eclipse Award champion who won the Calvin Houghland Iroquois for a second time.
Winston C and other Thoroughbred champions were honored at the 49th annual Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. This year’s Eclipse Awards presentations were sponsored by Claiborne Farm stallion Runhappy.
Among the Eclipse winners was George Strawbridge Jr., the all-time leading steeplechase owner who was honored as outstanding breeder.
Accepting the Eclipse Award was Hudson River Farms owner Edward P. Swyer, who was accompanied by trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s assistant, Keri Brion, jockey Thomas Garner, and National Steeplechase Association director Eve Ledyard.
The champions of 2019 were honored Thursday evening at the annual Steeplechase Awards Dinner and Dance, sponsored by the National Steeplechase Association and the Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association.
Racing commentator Michael Finney served as the master of ceremonies for the sold-out awards program, held at the Maryland Club in Baltimore. Music was provided by Release, and NSA official artist Sam Robinson displayed several of his works. His painting of Scorpiancer and Moscato graced the front of the awards-dinner program.
Honored at the dinner were:
Lonesome Glory Award, presented by McCauley’s: Michael Buckley’s Brain Power was the year’s leading earner in competition over fences. His one start, a victory in Far Hills’ $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), earned him $270,000.
With the start of the racing season little more than two months away, the National Steeplechase Association opens 2020 with meetings and the annual Awards Dinner and Dance, all at the Maryland Club in Baltimore.
The activities begin this Thursday, Jan. 16, with the Race Chairmen’s meeting from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hosted by Chairman Peter Fenwick, the day will be filled with discussions pertinent to race directors and other representatives from each of the 28 meets on the NSA circuit.
The annual Award Dinner and Dance, hosted by the Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association and the NSA, will be held starting at 6:30 that evening. Racing commentator Michael Finney will be the master of ceremonies for a program that honors the champions of 2019.
On Friday, Jan. 17, the NSA’s Board of Directors will convene for its first meeting of the year. Officers will be elected for 2020, and a nominating committee comprising Mike Hankin, Robert Bonnie, and Dwight Hall will present its report.
Guy J. Torsilieri announced today that he will step down from the National Steeplechase Association presidency at the next meeting of the Board of Directors on Jan. 17. A business owner and chairman of the Far Hills Race Meeting, Torsilieri has led the NSA since 2009, a period of growth and innovation within the sport.
He said he will continue as a member of the Board of Directors and will remain active in the affairs of the NSA.
“I concluded that, as we embark on a new decade, it was a good point to turn over the reins to a new generation and new leaders,” Torsilieri said. “I am extremely proud of what the National Steeplechase Association has accomplished during my tenure, and I am also proud of the leadership that has emerged within our sport.
“While I will continue to be deeply involved in steeplechasing and the NSA, I am confident that the future is in good, capable hands.”