George Strawbridge Jr. is Having a Thoroughly Delight(ful) BC

November 3, 2022

Delight breezing in the misty morning. Coady Photography

Strawbridge has won three Eclipse Awards and three Breeders’ Cup races!

Breeders’ Cup Notes/Edited

LEXINGTON, Ky.–George Strawbridge Jr.’s Delight has turned out to be well-named and has brought the prominent 85-year-old breeding and racing stalwart back to the Breeders’ Cup with her berth in the Juvenile Filly Turf.

With regular rider Luis Saez up, Delight will start from post nine in the 14-horse field. She is 6-1 on the morning line and will be the first Breeders’ Cup runner for Strawbridge since 2018.

Jonathan Thomas trains the chestnut daughter from the first crop of Mendelssohn for Strawbridge, who has won three Breeders’ Cup races from 21 starts. Delight earned her spot in the Juvenile Filly Turf with a 5-length victory in the Jessamine, a “Win and You’re In” challenge series race at Keeneland on Oct. 7. The front-running score in the Jessamine was her second-straight victory and brought her early career record to 2-0-2 from four starts.   

“She’s progressed really nicely over the year,” Thomas said. “We started her here early in the spring. Bought her out of a 2-year-old sale and sprinted her, knowing she’d probably need a little bit more ground, but it was a good chance to get some experience.

“Then we tapped the brakes for a couple months and brought her to Saratoga. She ran a very good third against a good filly of Chad’s (trainer Chad Brown, Pink Hue) and Xigera, who is trained by Phil Bauer and was third in the Alcibiades. She’s kept good company.”

Delight picked up her first victory going 7½ f at Delaware Park on Aug. 27.

“There was good spacing to the maiden at Delaware,” Thomas said. “She did that well, and that teed us up really nicely for the Jessamine.”

“I think she was a little bit trip-compromised at Saratoga. She might have finished a little better. Through no fault of his own, Luis had a really wide trip and I think our sheet number was comparable to the winner.  It was equal, if not a little bit faster. So, we left there feeling pretty good about what we had.  She put it all together in the Jessamine and subsequently has trained great. We’re really happy to be over here.”

Strawbridge is an Eclipse Award-winning breeder, but also has purchased some of his better runners at auction. In recent years, Strawbridge has been active in the 2yo sales, Thomas said, and acquired Delight at the March OBS sale.

“He’s embraced that.  I think we’ve had more luck recently,” Thomas said. “The last two years have been really good to us. We bought another filly that won a stake at Saratoga. We’re starting to kind of get up on our skis as far as going to the 2-year-old sales and getting some productivity out of it. He stepped up to the plate and she was a $400,000 filly. She breezed like it. She looked like it. She, obviously, has run up to her price tag.

“He’s opportunistic and he keeps eyes open for nice fillies. Thankfully we were able to get her.”

Strawbridge (left) with Last Call after her Jessamine “Win & You’re In” victory. Keeneland Photo

Strawbridge has been one of the leading figures in the industry as a breeder and an owner for decades, earning multiple Eclipse and Cartier Awards. He is a third-generation horseman and inherited his famed green-and-white halved silks from his grandfather, John Strawbridge.

Strawbridge Jr. (center left) at the trophy presentation for his 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champ Informed Decision with the CEO of Sentient Jet, (left), Nina Strawbridge and Steve Haskin (far right). Photo courtesy of /Cindy Pierson Dulay/

As an owner his three Breeders’ Cup winners are Tikkanen in the 1994 Turf (G1), Forever Together in the 2008 Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and Informed Decision in the 2009 Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). Has bred two Breeders’ Cup winners: 2019 Turf winner and Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar and Tikkanen. He has bred and raced more than 100 Grade/Group 1 winners in North America and Europe. They include Selkirk, the Cartier Award-winning European Miler in 1991 and 1992 who also took honors as the champion 3-Year-Old Colt and the Champion Older Male in England and in France, Moonlight Cloud, the 2013 European Champion Older Horse, and Rainbow View, the 2-Year-Old Champion Filly in Europe in 2008.

Despite all his success as a breeder it wasn’t until 2019 that he won his first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Breeder for Bricks and Mortar.

Strawbridge has won three Eclipse Awards for flat racers Waya (FR) (1979 Older Female); Forever Together (2008 Female Turf Horse; Informed Decision (2009 Female Sprinter). Waya was co-owned by Peter Brant.  He also has won three Eclipse Awards for his top steeplechase horses Café Prince (1977 and 1978) and Pompeyo (2001). Café Prince, trained by future Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1985.

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