01/26/2007 12:00AM

Lael and Darley dead heat for win


The Lael Stables of Roy and Gretchen Jackson and Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley organization share the 2006 Eclipse Award for leading owner. Each enjoyed a best-ever season in American racing, highlighted by wins in two of this country's most coveted races.

The Jacksons are best known as the breeders and owners of Barbaro, who scored a runaway victory in the Kentucky Derby, becoming just the sixth undefeated horse to win the race. They became the focus of massive public attention two weeks later when Barbaro broke down in the Preakness Stakes, ultimately won by the Darley's Bernardini. The Jacksons' highly public, and so far successful, effort to save Barbaro has earned them fans' appreciation and kept them in the spotlight all year.

But there were other important developments for the stable in 2006. Barbaro was one of two undefeated runners whom Lael Stables brought to the Kentucky Derby this year. For their first try at the roses, the Jacksons also entered Showing Up, a $60,000 purchase who set a track record of 1:34.05 for a mile at Gulfstream early in the season. It marked the first time a single owner had entered two undefeated runners in the Derby. Showing Up finished sixth but went on to become one of the year's top turf male horses, winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes and three other grass stakes.

Lael Stables had 28 wins from 109 starts in 2006, earning $4,333,045.

Bernardini's Preakness victory was overshadowed by Barbaro's injury, but it marked a notable achievement for Darley as Maktoum's first American classic win. Bernardini also won the Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Jim Dandy, and Withers.

Darley's other stars in 2006 included Dubai Escapade, winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes and a pair of Grade 2 events; multiple Grade 1-placed Balletto; and Grade 2 winner Songster.

Darley led all North American owners last season with $6,449,822 in purse earnings. The stable won 63 races from 293 starts.

Many of Maktoum's runners campaign under the Godolphin stable name, a Dubai-based partnership he created with his family. Godolphin enjoyed its greatest success in 2006 with Discreet Cat, winner of the Cigar Mile. But Maktoum, like his brother Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum of Shadwell Stable, also maintains his own racing stable, under the Darley name.

* VOTING: Darley Stable, 110; Lael Stables, 110; Shadwell Stable, 17; Live Oak Plantation, 13; Maggi Moss, 9; Louis O'Brien, 2; Frank Calabrese, 1; Robert Cole, Jr., 1; Melnyk Racing Stable, 1; J. Paul Reddam, 1; STD Racing and Jason Wood, 1; Stronach Stables, 1; Voter abstentions, 4.