Reisterstown, Md.—The fifth annual Renaissance Awards, a collaborative effort between the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club, which recognizes excellence in Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Maryland in the past year, went virtual again this year. Throughout the week of Feb. 28, awards were presented through the MHBA’s social media accounts to the top Maryland owner, trainer, jockey, breeder, broodmare and stallion, Backstretch Workers of the Year, one for Pimlico Race Course and one for Laurel Park, as well as the champion Maryland-breds of 2021.
Maryland-bred champions of 2021—Knicks Go crowned Maryland-Bred Horse of the Year
Standout Grade 1 winner Knicks Go once again took home top honors as Maryland-bred Horse of the Year and champion older male.
Owned by Korea Racing Authority and trained by Brad H. Cox, Knicks Go exceeded expectations with another impressive year as he won five of seven starts, three of them Grade 1 victories, capped off with a gate-to-wire score in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1, which he won by two and three-quarters lengths. He became the third Maryland-bred in history to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, joining back-to-back winners Concern and Cigar in 1994 and 1995.
Other highlights included wins in the $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Invitational-G1, $1,000,000 Whitney Stakes-G1, $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap-G3 and $300,000 Lukas Classic-G3, all contributing to his season earnings of $7,324,140. His success earned him the honor of being crowned North America’s 2021 Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award older dirt male champion.
Knicks Go, bred by Angie and Sabrina Moore, was sold as a weanling for $40,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale, and later purchased for $87,000 as a yearling by Korea Racing Authority at the 2017 Keeneland September sale.
The 6-year-old son of Paynter made his final career start this January, finishing second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, and now stands his first season at stud at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. Previously named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year in 2018 and 2020, the five-time Grade 1 winner and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner retired with a record of 25-10-4-1 and $9,258,135 in earnings.
Other divisional champions:
Champion 2-year-old male: Joe (b.c., 2019, by Declaration of War—Battle Bridge, by Arch). Bred and owned by The Elkstone Group LLC; trained by Michael J. Trombetta.
Champion 2-year-old filly: Luna Belle (b.f., 2019, by Great Notion—Heavenly Moon, by Mojave Moon). Bred by Fred A. Greene Jr., Deborah Greene and Hamilton Smith; owned by Deborah S. Greene and Hamilton A. Smith; trained by Hamilton A. Smith.
Champion 3-year-old male: Jaxon Traveler (dk.b./br.c., 2018, by Munnings—Listen Boy, by After Market). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau; owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner; trained by Steven M. Asmussen.
Champion 3-year-old filly: Street Lute (ch.f., 2018, by Street Magician—Alottalute, by Midnight Lute). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Dr. Brooke Bowman; owned by Lucky 7 Stables; trained by John J. Robb.
Champion older female: Hello Beautiful (dk.b./br.m., 2017, Golden Lad—Hello Now, by Tiznow). Bred by Hillwood Stables LLC; owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stable and Magic City Stables, LLC; trained by Brittany Russell.
Champion turf runner: Field Pass (gr./ro.h, 2017, by Lemon Drop Kid—Only Me, by Runaway Groom). Bred by Mark Brown Grier; owned by Three Diamonds Farm; trained by Michael J. Maker.
Champion sprinter: Aloha West (dk.b./br.h., 2017, by Hard Spun—Island Bound, by Speightstown). Bred by Robert T. Manfuso and Katharine M. Voss; owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners; trained by Wayne M. Catalano.
Also presented were the annual breeder, stallion and broodmare of the year awards. The late Robert T. Manfuso and Katharine M. Voss, breeders of 2021 Maryland-bred champion sprinter Aloha West, were crowned the Maryland Breeders of the Year, while their mare Island Bound, dam of Aloha West, was named Maryland Broodmare of the Year, and Northview Stallion Station’s Great Notion took home the title of Maryland Stallion of the Year for the sixth consecutive year.
Other award winners for 2021 include Hillwood Stable LLC, Maryland Owner of the Year; Brittany Russell, Maryland Trainer of the Year; Jevian Toledo, Maryland Jockey of the Year. Julio Garcia was honored as the Pimlico Backstretch Worker of the Year, while Antoinette Charles Orellana earned the title of Laurel Backstretch Employee of the Year.
Selections were made by Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred editors Joe Clancy and Cindy Deubler and senior writers Sean Clancy and Tom Law, MHBA communications manager Sara Gordon, Maryland Jockey Club vice president of racing development Georganne Hale, MJC racing secretary Jillian Tullock, track announcer Dave Rodman and racing analysts Tim Tullock and Naomi Tukker, Keith Feustle of Equibase, MTHA Communications and Backstretch Services’ Tom LaMarra, freelance writers Andy Beyer, Ted Black, Maggie Kimmitt, Vinnie Perrone and John Scheinman, racing analyst and reporter Gabby Gaudet, The Racing Biz publisher Frank Vespe, photographer Lydia Williams and WBAL NewsRadio reporter Scott Wykoff.
To watch the video announcements for each champion and award winner, click here.