Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Aloha West and Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go, the only two Maryland-bred contenders at this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, held at Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., made history Saturday, Nov. 6, as they each won their races to mark the first time two Maryland-breds won on the same Breeders’ Cup card.
Aloha West, a 4-year-old son of Hard Spun bred by Robert T. Manfuso and Katharine M. Voss and born at Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, Md., went from allowance winner to Breeders’ Cup champion as he made a powerful move down the stretch to catch Dr. Schivel and win the $2,000,000 Sprint-G1 by a nose in a photo finish. Trained by Wayne Catalano, the colt was second, by a neck, behind Special Reserve in last month’s Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix S-G2 at Keeneland.
“That was pretty exciting. I’ve watched every one of his races. I don't know what they paid, but when Eclipse bought him, they were very excited,” said Voss. “I'm sorry I wasn't there.”
The fourth foal out of Grade 3 winner Island Bound, a daughter of Speightstown, Aloha West was sold as a yearling for $160,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September sale. Unraced until this year, he holds a record of 5-2-0 from nine career starts with $1,311,068 in earnings. He is the second Maryland-bred Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, the first being Safely Kept in 1990.
Just four races later, in the Breeders’ Cup finale, Knicks Go secured his second career Breeders’ Cup victory as he led gate-to-wire and won the $6,000,000 Classic-G1 by two and three-quarter lengths, with Kentucky Derby-G1 winner Medina Spirit second and Belmont Stakes-G1 winner Essential Quality three-quarters of a length back in third.
“The track was so fast, I just knew if he broke well it was going to work in his favor. I mean it was his biggest test yet and he obviously passed it with flying colors, it was insane,” said breeder Sabrina Moore. “It was certainly surreal, but I didn’t doubt him. I kind of knew in my gut it would be alright. It’s really wild. I just am so lucky. Being in Maryland, the next best thing you can do, especially to get a kickback for the breeders, is to be in the Breeders’ Cup and for it to work out not just once, but three times, it’s just unreal.”
The 5-year-old son of Paynter, bred by Sabrina Moore and Angie Moore and born at GreenMount Farm in Reisterstown, Md., became the third Maryland-bred to win the Classic and the first in over 25 years, following Concern in 1994 and Cigar in 1995.
Trained by Brad Cox, Knicks Go has won 10 of his 24 starts, including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1, and boosted his overall earnings to $8,673,135. He sits as the second-highest earning Maryland-bred in history behind Cigar ($9,999,815). He was also second in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile-G1 when trained by Ben Colebrook.
Following his fifth career Grade 1 victory, and third this year, Knicks Go has solidified a bid to win the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year. He will make one final start, hoping to defend his title in the Pegasus World Cup-G1 at Gulfstream Park (worth $3 million in 2021), which will run Saturday, Jan. 29, before retiring and entering stud at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., for the 2022 breeding season.
The fourth foal out of Maryland-bred Kosmo’s Buddy, a stakes-winning daughter of Outflanker, Knicks Go was initially sold as a weanling for $40,000 and later purchased by his current connections as a yearling for $87,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale.