01/06/2012 11:57AM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Team Valor

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Animal Kingdom gave Team Valor International’s syndicate members the thrill of a lifetime in 2011 when the stable’s homebred won the Kentucky Derby at odds of 20-1. But that wasn’t the stable’s only big news. Summer Soiree, one of 12 Team Valor stakes-winners in 2011, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks and two other graded races, and her runner-up finish in the Nov. 25 Matriarch also propelled the 20-year-old operation to its highest annual earnings. According to Equibase statistics, Team Valor closed out the year with $3,206,885 in winnings, putting it on North America’s top 10 owners’ list. The far-flung stable enjoyed 21 wins from 78 starts, a 27 percent strike rate with a far smaller number of starts than the other top 10 owners. Team Valor also race some horses in partnership, and their performances brought the stable’s earnings to more than $3.5 million last year from a record that included 27 wins from 126 starts.

Barry Irwin, a former racing writer, established Team Valor – a successor to the earlier Clover Racing partnerships – in 1992 with Jeff Siegel. In 2007, Irwin bought out Siegel’s interest and recast the stable as Team Valor International, a nod to its global reach. Team Valor runners won graded or group stakes last year in settings from South Africa to France to both coasts of the United States.

“The creative challenge of spotting and developing the equine talent, coupled with the satisfaction of being able to allow other people to realize their dreams, is an unbeatable combination,” Irwin once said of his work at Team Valor, now headquartered in Lawrenceburg, Ky.