Winners of the sixth annual Renaissance Champion Awards, a collaborative effort between the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association which recognizes excellence in Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Maryland in the past year, were announced the week of Feb. 27 on the MHBA’s social media accounts.
Awards for the 2022 season will be presented at the first in-person awards dinner since 2020, to be held at Citron on the Waterfront at Quarry Lake in Baltimore County on Friday, April 14. Those receiving awards are the breeders and owners of the champion Maryland-breds, owners of the Maryland-based runners, as well as top Maryland owner, trainer, jockey, breeder, broodmare and stallion, and the MTHA Backstretch Workers of the Year – one for Pimlico Race Course and one for Laurel Park.
Maryland-bred champions of 2022— Fille d'Esprit named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year
Fille d’Esprit enjoyed great success in the Mid-Atlantic in 2022, and was rewarded for her exploits with three Renaissance Champions Awards, capturing the titles of champion older female, champion sprinter and Horse of the Year. Owned by C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm and trained by Jerry Robb, Fille d’Esprit enjoyed great success during a busy season. She won five stakes races, three of them at Laurel Park, and placed in five more in 13 starts, for earnings of $420,055.
She became the 16th filly or mare to be named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year and, as a daughter of Northview Stallion Station’s seven-time Maryland Stallion of the Year Great Notion, she’s the first Maryland-sired Horse of the Year since Ben’s Cat, who won four consecutive Horse of the Year titles from 2011-14. Fille d’Esprit originally raced for her breeders, Jim and Gail Poulos, under the name of their Sweet Spirits Stables while trained by Christy Claggett. She was claimed by her current connections for $10,000 out of a victory at Laurel in August 2020 in her third start. She sports a career record of 14-5-2 from 26 starts, with earnings of $735,101.
Other divisional champions:
Champion 2-year-old male: Post Time (gr./ro.c., 2020, Frosted—Vielsalm, by Fairbanks). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Dr. Brooke Bowman and Milton P. Higgins III; owned by Hillwood Stable LLC; trained by Brittany Russell.
Champion 2-year-old filly: Malibu Moonshine (ch.f., 2020, Bourbon Courage—Sunday in Malibu, by Malibu Moon). Bred by Dr. Ronald Harris Parker; owned by Happy Face Racing Stable; trained by Charlton Baker.
Champion 3-year-old male: Joe (b.c., 2019, Declaration of War—Battle Bridge, by Arch). Bred and owned by the Elkstone Group LLC; trained by Michael Trombetta.
Champion 3-year-old filly: Luna Belle (b.f., 2019, 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 Smith.
Champion older male: Whereshetoldmetogo (ch.g., 2015, El Padrino—Undisputed Legend, by Domestic Dispute). Bred by David H. Wade; owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Ten Strike Racing, Michael E. Kisber and BTR Racing Inc.; trained by Brittany Russell.
Champion turf horse: 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 Maker.
Champion steeplechaser: Who’s Counting (b.g., 2018, Vancouver-Aus—Counter Measure, by Henrythenavigator). Bred and owned by South Branch Equine LLC; trained by Sean McDermott.
Awards for Breeder, Stallion, and Broodmare of the Year go to Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Maryland Breeders of the Year (their 10th award); Slow and Steady, dam of 2022 three-time stakes winner Malibu Beauty and stakes-placed Fast Tracked, as Maryland Broodmare of the Year; and Great Notion, his seventh consecutive as Maryland Stallion of the Year.
Also named 2022 award winners are R. Larry Johnson, Maryland Owner of the Year; Brittany Russell, Maryland Trainer of the Year; Jevian Toledo, Maryland Jockey of the Year; Cordmaker, Maryland Male Dirt Horse of the Year; Luna Belle, Maryland Female Dirt Horse of the Year; English Tavern, Maryland Male Turf Horse of the Year; Spun Glass, Maryland Female Turf Horse of the Year; and Eastern Bay, Maryland Claimer of the Year. In addition, Ricardo Martinez was recognized as the Pimlico Backstretch Employee of the Year, while Martin Haiber was named Laurel Backstretch Employee of the Year.
To watch the video announcements for each champion and award winner, visit Maryland Thoroughbred's YouTube page