LAUREL, MD – It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as watching some of his races, but seeing the horse she bred at her modest Maryland farm earn the top annual prize in Thoroughbred racing was the thrill of a lifetime for Sabrina Moore.
Moore, owner and operator of GreenMount Farm in Glyndon, Md., a 43-acre spread 30 minutes north of Baltimore, was in California and on stage to see Knicks Go earn trophies for both champion older male and Horse of the Year during the 51st Eclipse Awards at Santa Anita Thursday night.
“It’s bittersweet, for sure. Definitely, this is it. It’s all coming to an end,” Moore said. “I feel like after Pegasus, that was really the last big stepping stone that was really emotional. I was really kind of worried about that. I feel at peace with everything now. It’s a good end to the chapter, for sure.”
Knicks Go earned 228 votes for Horse of the Year and 232 for champion older male, both out of 235. Aloha West, bred in Maryland by Laurel Park-based trainer Katy Voss and her late life partner Robert Manfuso, was second to Jackie’s Warrior in voting for champion male sprinter. John Hiraldo and Charlie Marquez were finalists for champion apprentice jockey, won by Jessica Pyfer.
“My big goal when I started was I really want a horse to run on Maryland Million Day. I was like, ‘To win the Maryland Million would just be absolutely unbelievable,’” Moore said. “So, to have the horse of the year throughout the whole country? It’s just unimaginable.”
Knicks Go became the first Maryland-bred to be named Horse of the Year since Hall of Famer Cigar, who earned the title in 1995 and 1996. Cigar won 19 of 33 races between 1993 and 1996 and finished with $9,999,815 in purse earnings.
By contrast, Knicks Go made 25 starts from 2018 to 2022 and won 10 of them, with $9,528,135 in purses earned.
“[Cigar] is legendary in his own right. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t going to feel really bad if he did ever break Cigar’s earnings record. He’s held it for quite a long time. For Cigar to do what he did with the purses they had back then, it almost didn’t seem fair,” Moore said. “To be in the same ranks as that horse is really neat, and it puts things into perspective.
“I’ve kind of normalized him a little bit. It’s hard to explain, but it’s kind of just become normal for me now,” she added. “It’s really hard for me to put into perspective that, oh wow, he’s really up there with these really, really nice horses. It’s unbelievable.”
Moore sold Knicks Go, a gray or roan son of Paynter out of the Outflanker mare Kosmo’s Buddy, to Northface Bloodstock for $40,000 as a weanling at Keeneland’s 2016 November breeding stock sale. The following fall, Korea Racing Authority bought him for $87,000.
Knicks Go won the 2018 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old but didn’t hit his stride until being moved to trainer Brad Cox for the 2020 season. He won eight of his last 11 races including the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and 2021 Pegasus World Cup, Whitney (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“He’s always had a bunch of character, but I’d be lying to you if I said I thought he would be the horse he is today,” Moore said. “I think a lot of people would tell you the same thing, because I think he would have sold for a lot more than what he sold for if anybody really had a clue. He’s absolutely exceeded all of our expectations over and over again. It’s been a real treat. We never expected any of this for him, so everything that he’s done has just been a cherry on top.”
Moore’s grandfather purchased GreenMount Farm in 2006 and she began her breeding career just after graduating from high school in 2012. Moore still owns a Not For Love mare that is a half-sister to Knicks Go.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully breeding her to some nice stallions and banking on that, just keep trying to improve my stock and hopefully get something at least half as good as he ever was,” Moore said. “I’m pretty realistic. I know he was a fluke thing to begin with, and I’m sure it’ll definitely be hard to duplicate, but you can always hope for the best.”
Jockey Jevian Toledo swept the early double Friday with Albertano ($9.40) in Race 1 and Hashtag Lucky ($9.40) in Race 2.
Jockey Jaime Rodriguez and trainer Jamie Ness teamed up for a pair of winners – Visual Artist ($10.60) in Race 4 and Borracho ($4.60) in Race 8. Hashtag Lucky and Pay the Kid ($15.80) in Race 10 are both trained by Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon.
Laurel will host a live 10-race program Saturday starting at 12:25 p.m. There will be a carryover of $623.34 in the $1 Super Hi-5.
Laurel Park Press Release
Photo: Knicks Go/Bob Coglianese