Zanjabeel won the Eclipse Award for the leading steeplechase horse and his owners, George and Mandy Mahoney's Rosbrian Farm and Ben and Wendy Griswold's Meadow Run Farm, and his trainer Ricky Hendriks were presented with the award at the annual Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park on Thursday, Jan. 24.
This was not Hendriks first Eclipse Award, as he won as a rider in 1980, 1981 and 1982 when he was the jockey of three-time Eclipse winner Zaccio, who was trained by W. Burling Cocks,
Hendriks is the first horseman to win as both a rider and a trainer quite an accomplishment.
"I was hoping Zanjabeel would win, but you just never know," said Hedriks in an interview a few days after the award while he and George mahoney were celebrating the win with a round of golf on the island of Antiqua. "I was relieved when they called Zanjabeel's name."
"As it turned out, he won easily," said Hendriks.
ZANJABEEL (GB) received 176 votes as opposed to Optimus Prime (Fr), who is also owned by Rosbrian Farm and trained by Hendriks, who received 22 votes, while Jury Duty (Ire), who raced only once in this country but won the richest race, the $450,000 Grand National at Far Hills got 12 votes, with Iranistan, trained by Jonathan Sheppard and the National Steeplechase Association's Champion Novice horse,, got 4 votes and Balance the Budget got 1, with 34 Voter Abstentions.
"It was sureal," said George Mahoney of the award. "To be among all the names at that dinner was really awesome."
"I haven't had the fortune to have gone to the awards ceremony before," said Mahoney. "It was a first class affair. It was highly orchestrated. Each winner gets to give a speech, and I was chosen from our group to give the speech. The speech was limited to 60 seconds, so you have to be fast."
"My plan for the future is to do whatever the horses show us they're ready to do," said Mahoney. "Zanjabeel should come back fro his leg injury. H'e a 6-year-old now, so he's still young."
"We'll just keep our fingers crossed," Mahoney said. "Ricky has some new horses, too."
Mahoney, who has a farm in Glyndon, Md., just retired as joint master of the Green Spring Valley Hounds.
Zanjabeel won the G1 $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois on May 12 and the G1 $175,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap on Sept. 20 as well as finishing second in the G1 $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup on March 31 and the G2 $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap on April 21.
Optimus Prime won the G1 $175,000 New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga.
Zanjabeel, bred in England, is by Aussie Rules, a winner of Grade 1 and Group 1 races on the turf and is out of the unraced Machiavellian mare Grain Only.
Unraced at two, he was trained by Gordon Elliot and won a maiden flat race at 3 and two flat wins as a 4-year-old before starting over hurdles in the summer of 2017.
Elliott sent him to the States for the Grand National, which he won by 4 3/4 lengths, and shortly thereafter the Mahoneys and Griswolds bought him.
A PAIR of Pa-breds, Unique Bella and Shamrock Rose, also received Eclipse Awards, Unique Bella as older Dirt Female and Shamrock Rose as Female Sprinter.
Unique Bella, by Tapit out of Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled's Song, was bred by Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable in Malvern, Pa.
In 2018, she won the G2 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 10, the G1 Beholder Stakes at Santa Anitaon June 2 and the G1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 29 and wa second in the G2 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklaswn Park on April 13.
She has nine firsts and two seconds from 12 career starts and has earned $1,272,400.
She is owned by Don Alberto Stable, trained by Jerry Hollander and was ridden by Mike Smith.
Unique Bella received 182 votes over Abel Tasman, who got 34 votes and Marley's Freedom, 14 votes, Blue Prize (Arg), nine votes, Wow Cat (Chi), nine votes and one Voter Abstention.
SHAMROCK ROSE, by First Dude out of Slew's Quality, by Elusive Quality, was bred by Best A Luck Farm LLC and is owned by Conrad Farms.
Manfred and Penny Conrad supplemented Shamrock Rose into the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, and the decision paid off when she won the 7 furlong race by a head.
She is the third 3-year-old filly to be named Eclipse champion female sprinter.
Shamrock rose is trained by Mark Casse and was riddn by Irad Ortizz, Jr.
Shamrock Rose received 136 votes to Marley's Freedom's 113 votes.
She now has five firsts, two seconds and a third from 11 starts and earnings of $924,962.00
The North American championship award was determined by votes of National Thoroughbred Racing Association racing secretaries, Daily Racing Form editorial employees, and members of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.
Older Dirt Female