Maryland-bred Honors Up for Grabs

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Ted Black

January 31st, 2017

On Monday night, nearly 10 days after the Eclipse Awards were announced to honor Thoroughbred racing's best horses for 2016, ballots to determine the Maryland-bred division champions and horse of the year were due back to the Maryland Horse Breeders Association in Timonium.

In years past the title of Maryland-bred horse of the year carried an immense amount of weight, especially in years when the state produced 2,500-3,000 foals and several of them were in line for Eclipse Awards and even horse of the year in North America and Europe.

While none of the horses on the ballot for Maryland-bred horse of year received an Eclipse Award, two of them were actually deemed as finalists and a third won a Grade I event. Cathryn Sophia, winner of the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, was a finalist for champion three-year-old filly although that title went unanimously to Songbird, also a finalist for horse of the year that went easily to California Chrome.

Dancing Rags won the Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland before finishing eighth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, while steeplechaser Top Striker won a Grade I event over the hurdles. Cathryn Sophia, Dancing Rags and Top Striker all appear locks to win their respective Maryland-bred division titles and they could eventually garner the top three spots in the horse of the year voting.

But the top spot appears unmistakably slated for Cathryn Sophia. The talented filly earned $1.1 million last season on the strength of three graded stakes scores, including the Oaks. She also edged out Stellar Wind for the honor of top Mid-Atlantic-bred (encompassing Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey) in a poll conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred and The Racing Biz website.