01/05/2012 1:54PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Havre de Grace

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The only act tougher to follow than Elvis might have been Sinatra. Havre de Grace took the stage while notes from both were still ringing in the rafters. From 2008 through 2010, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta won six Eclipse Award championships between them, including Horse of the Year trophies in 2009 and 2010. Havre de Grace answered with a 2011 season of championship quality that combined attributes of both towering predecessors, plus a few grand flourishes of her own.

As a daughter of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, Havre de Grace already was a pearl of great price well beyond the $380,000 Rick Porter paid for her as a yearling. Saint Liam sired just one crop before his untimely death, and among those precious foals of 2007 was a bay daughter of the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette who grew up to be a 4-year-old and who, among other things:

* Emerged for her 2011 debut to defeat arch-rival and reigning champion Blind Luck by more than three lengths.

* Defeated a field of males in the Woodward Stakes that included Flat Out, subsequent winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

* Defeated subsequent Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner Royal Delta by more than eight lengths in the historic Beldame.

* Won five of her seven 2011 starts for earnings of more than $1.6 million.

Havre de Grace arrived at the final appearance of her 4-year-old season as the consensus best older filly or mare in a division deep with talent. She already had emulated Rachel Alexandra’s victory in the Woodward, and now she would reach for Zenyatta’s heights by contesting the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. At 4-1 in the betting, there were many who could see it happen.

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

Instead, Havre de Grace proved to be mortal, but not by much. A solid bump on the first turn didn’t help, and the sticky Churchill Downs surface was like none she’d ever experienced before. But neither Porter, trainer Larry Jones, nor jockey Ramon Dominguez would sully their filly’s good name with post-race excuses. She finished a respectable fourth, three lengths behind the victorious Drosselmeyer and ahead of such accomplished males as Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve, So You Think, Flat Out, and Uncle Mo.

In her only other loss of 2011, Havre de Grace was beaten a nose by Blind Luck at the end of the year’s most exciting 10 furlongs, in the Delaware Handicap on June 16 at Delaware Park. Channeling the best rivalries in the history of the game, the two fillies were at each other through a ferocious final three-eighths of a mile that could have gone either way. In terms of how they were hailed in the wake of the race, it might as well have been a dead heat. Havre de Grace was bred in Kentucky by Nancy Dillman and was ridden in six of her seven starts by national champ Dominguez while Gabe Saez stepped in for her win in Delaware Park’s Obeah. As this is written, Havre de Grace is enjoying a winter holiday in Florida, recharging her high voltage batteries in preparation for what promises to be another memorable season in 2012.

 

Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time Beyers Video
11/5/11 CD Breeders Cup Classic 4th 1 1/4 mile 2:04.27 100 Video
10/01/11 BEL Beldame 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:49.39 105 Video
9/03/11 SAR Woodward 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:49.00 111 Video
7/16/11 DEL Delaware Handicap 2nd 1 1/4 mile 2:01.20 106 Video
6/11/11 DEL Obeah 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:49.80 97 Video
4/15/11 OP Apple Blossom 1st 1 1/16 mile 1:42.00 108 Video
3/19/11 OP Azeri 1st 1 1/16 Mile 1:42.00 105 Video

Havre de Grace

Breeder: Nancy S Dillman 
Trainer: J. Larry Jones
Owner: Fox Hill Farms, Inc.
Record: 13-7-4-2
Best Beyer: 111

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