Darley sires have again played a key role at the Eclipse Awards ceremony. To the surprise of none of the many distinguished guests present at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel, Jonabell Farm and Dalham Hall Stud were both represented by award winners, with resident stallions Cherokee Run, Elusive Quality and Singspiel responsible for War Pass, Maryfield and Lahudood respectively.
This year's Eclipse Awards ceremony, the 37th in the history of the world's most prestigious championship decider, proved to be the second consecutive at which the winner of the Two-year-old Male category was conceived at Jonabell Farm, Cherokee Run's son War Pass having followed in the footsteps of outstanding Street Cry colt Street Sense by guaranteeing his nomination as champion male juvenile with a runaway win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. In addition to this achievement, Elusive Quality's daughter Maryfield secured the Female Sprinter award after outclsssing her opponents in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on the dirt at Monmouth, having previously won the G1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga in August. Singspiel, one of the stalwarts of Darley's English farm Dalham Hall Stud, is responsible for clear-cut Breeders' Cup Filly And Mare Turf heroine Lahudood, winner of the Eclipse Award for Female Turf Horse.
Until Street Sense laid that particular bogey by romping home with last year's Kentucky Derby, there had seemed to be a jinx on Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners in the Run For The Roses. Now that Street Cry's first-crop star has disproved that theory, hopes are now high that War Pass can do likewise and credit Cherokee Run with yet another big race success at Churchill Downs next May. Certainly War Pass' juvenile form is so rock-solid that his Classic credentials are first-class: prior to storming home by 4.75 lengths in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile he had posted an emphatic win in New York's premier juvenile event, the Grade One Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
Runner-up to the ill-fated Prairie Bayou in the Preakness Stakes, Cherokee Run, himself a Breeders' Cup hero when successful in the Sprint as a four-year-old, would be a natural addition to Darley's list of Kentucky Derby sires. When Street Cry's son Street Sense romped home in the race last year, it made him the third Kentucky Derby winner in four years for Darley sires, following the successes of Giacomo (Holy Bull) and Smarty Jones (Elusive Quality). Those winners put their sires in the same elite band that includes Quiet American, sire of 1998 Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet.
Holy Bull himself, in addition to siring Giacomo, had already put himself in Kentucky Derby history by starting favourite in the 1994 renewal. Although sustaining a rare defeat that day (he won 13 of his 16 starts in a superb career), he still ended that year as Horse of the Year and Eclipse Champion Three-year-old Colt. It was appropriate, therefore, that on Monday, shortly before Cherokee Run's son War Pass collected his Eclipse Award, Holy Bull should sire a Stakes race exacta, his sons Liberty Bull and Isabull running first and second in, appropriately, the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.