Red Knight trains at Keeneland Nov. 3 (Coady Photography)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Tom Egan’s Trinity Farm homebred Red Knight has taken his owner to eight racetracks in six seasons of racing, earning over $1.2 million with two graded stakes triumphs. The 8-year-old New York-bred son of Pure Prize will now bring Egan to his first Breeders’ Cup as he takes on the Grade 1, $4 million Turf slated for Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
Trained by Mike Maker, Red Knight is 2-for-3 this year, scoring stakes victories in the Colonial Cup in July at Colonial Downs and Grade 2 Kentucky Turf Cup on September 10 at Kentucky Downs by a nose over multiple Grade 1-winner Gufo. Prior to the Colonial Cup, it had been nearly two years since Red Knight’s last victory, which came in the 2020 Grade 3 Sycamore going the Turf distance at Keeneland. Egan’s faith in his seasoned turf marathoner never wavered, and his patience was rewarded with two additional stakes placings before finding the winner’s circle again earlier this year.
“The defeats make the victories even sweeter,” said Egan. “You have your defeats, but then you have your victories. He seems like a 2-year-old still. I’ve always heard that you get a good older horse and they’ll take you around the country. That’s what he’s done. Mike even thinks this boy can run as a 9-year-old.”
Egan’s journey to the Breeders’ Cup began long before Red Knight was foaled, dating back to September of 2003 when he purchased the gelding’s dam, Isabel Away, for $60,000 at Keeneland. She raced 11 times with one win before retiring in 2007 to begin a broodmare career that saw her produce multiple stakes-winner Macagone in addition to Red Knight.
“We bought her as a yearling in 2003 and it’s been a 20-year run,” said Egan. “We’ve accomplished far, far more than we ever imagined.”
Egan selected graded stakes-winning Phipps Stable homebred Pure Prize for Isabel Away’s 2010 foal named Birchwood Road, and bred her back to him to produce Red Knight in 2014. Egan said his choice was influenced by his history with John Russell, who trained for Phipps Stable for several years, and by Pure Prize’s breeding, being by Storm Cat and out of 1994 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Heavenly Prize.
“In another lifetime, I wrote to four trainers and inquired about working at their barn. The only one who replied was John Russell. He said, ‘Yeah, come down to Hialeah and you can start.’ So, I always had an affinity for the Phipps Stable,” said Egan. “I was keenly aware of Pure Prize, and when I went to see him for the first time, I always look at a stallion in two ways: the body and then the legs. His body was fantastic and fit our mare. He’s by Storm Cat, and he’s out of a Phipps line mare who was a champion. What more do you need, other than a lot of luck?”
Red Knight took up training in Florida as a 2-year-old before shipping up to Saratoga to begin serious preparations with conditioner Michelle Nihei. There, he impressed both Egan and his conditioner.
“From the very beginning, we thought he was something – we knew he was a very good runner,” said Egan. “He had a workout as a 2-year-old at Saratoga on the grass. The rider got on the phone with Michelle and said, ‘This horse can run.’ She said, ‘Yeah, we’ve known this for three months.’ It was just a question of keeping him together and happy.”
By June of 2017, Red Knight had moved to the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, winning five of his first seven outings before earning his first stakes victory in the 2018 H. Allen Jerkens going two miles at Gulfstream Park under the guidance of Luis Saez. Saez went on to pilot him twice more to close runner-up finishes in the 2019 Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland and 2020 Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.
Saez has the call aboard Red Knight on Saturday for the first time since the Kentucky Turf Cup.
“I’m very happy with Luis,” said Egan. “He’s ridden Red three times and won once with two seconds, which were no fault of his or Red. Sometimes those are the circumstances of the race. He has ridden him perfectly.”
Red Knight will be one of four New York-breds at the Breeders’ Cup, and Egan said it is an honor to represent the program.
“It is really special,” said Egan. “I still consider New York my home base. We just saw Red this morning and he does not seem 8-years-old. He’s full of life. He’s amazing.”
The Breeders’ Cup will be Red Knight’s 31st start as he looks to add an elusive Grade 1 triumph to a resume that boasts 10 victories and two triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.