It Was Amazing: Bricks and Mortar is Horse of the Year

January 24, 2020

Bricks and Mortar’s Presence Looms Large at the Runhappy 49th Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH–He never made it look easy, but had an intuitive sense of when he should move. 

And that was part of his charm. 

Bricks and Mortar’s 5-year-old campaign went unblemished, winning all six of his starts, demonstrating his versatility, winning over firm and yielding turf courses, winning at six different tracks, scoring five grade one wins, with his other added money victory coming in a Grade Two. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., the 2019 Eclipse Award winning Jockey, rode Bricks and Mortar to each of his six victories. 

The unanimous winner of the Run Happy 49th Eclipse Award for Male Turf Horse, Bricks and Mortar’s named would be mentioned throughout the evening. It would culminate with the son of Giant’s Causeway being named the Horse of the Year, securing 204 of the 241 first place votes. 

“Being involved with Bricks and Mortar has truly been a thrill of a lifetime for Bill and me,” said Seth Klarman, Klaravich Stable and co-owner of Bricks and Mortar. “Bricks ended his career with 11 wins in 13 starts. He was within a length and a half from being undefeated. In 2019 alone, he was six-for-six at six different tracks.”

Bricks and Mortar bankrolled more $7 million in his career, with $6,723,650 coming during his 5-year-old campaign. He scored Grade One wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park, the Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs, the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park, the Arlington Million XXXVII at Arlington Park and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita. His Grade Two score came in the Muniz Memorial Handicap at the Fair Grounds. 

“We ran against the best competition we could find,” said Klarman. “He danced every dance. These accomplishments are largely due to the efforts of Chad Brown. Chad is an incredibly gifted horseman. He managed this horse with great patience and skill.”

Leading a top barn is a group effort, and Brown has assembled a deep and talented team, said Klarman. 

“Mike and Mary Ryan, Ian Brennan at Stonestreet, Des Ryan and Dell Ridge and Larry Bramlage at Rood and Riddle, and Chad’s assistant trainers and everyone at his barn, especially Hugo Gonzalez and Daniel Bernardini,” said Klarman. “We must also acknowledge George Strawbridge who bred Bricks.”

Klarman referred to Eclipse Award Winning Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. as incomparable, and recognized the journeyman for riding Bricks and Mortar confidently and masterfully. 

“He was the perfect rider for this perfect season of Bricks and Mortar,” said Klarman. “On behalf of Chad, Irad, Bill Lawrence and his wife Gloria and my wife Beth, who has been my partner on this amazing ride; I want to thank the voters for recognizing the achievements in 2019 of this truly exceptional equine athlete.” 

However, Bricks and Mortar showed his fierce determination in overcoming adversity, shaking off being bumped and rallying to win the 1 1/8-miles Grade One Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes, by a half-length at Churchill Downs, in what would be his third graded stakes victory in 2019. The dark bay horse’s victories ranged from winning by as much as 2 ½-lengths and as small as a nose margin. 

“He doesn’t want to win by a lot, he knows where the finish line is and he gets there,” said Klarman. “I would say I was never totally confident he would win because he did all of his running right at the end. He had a gear that nobody else had. When he got out in the clear, he always went by. It was pretty exciting all year.”

But it was his dramatic style coming from off the pace, closing with an equanimity, that left his connections, the wagering public and anyone who was fortunate to know the horse, with a quiet confidence. 

“I’ve been in the sport almost my whole life and an owner for 30 years, and it’s by far the crowning achievement,” said Klarman. “It’s astonishing; really amazing.”

Bricks and Mortar was bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Jr. and brought $200,000 at the 2015 Keeneland Yearling Sale. 

“It’s the height of the mountain, it’s extraordinary and I’m extremely grateful,” said Strawbridge, Jr., who compared winning the Eclipse Award as Breeder of the Year, over finalists Godolphin and Calumet Farm, much larger breeders, to Davey slaying Goliath. “It was amazing. I didn’t expect it all.”

Ben Baugh

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