For the second consecutive year, the 2021 Darley Awards, presented by the Arabian Racing Cup (ARC) and sponsored by the Texas Arabian Breeders Association, delivered a moving virtual experience celebrating the top individuals and horses in the sport of Arabian racing in the United States. The special live-streaming event took place on the evening of Friday 19 March and reached over 2,000 people worldwide, a figure that is still climbing.
Guests enjoyed presentations from ARC Chief Steward Jon Henningsgard and event coordinator, Evie Tubbs Sweeney; a presentation of two Chief Steward’s Awards to outstanding community members Rita DeLeon and Rhonda Tuley; and, of course, the anticipated reveal of each Darley Champion for the 2020 racing year. New this year was an acclaimed international presence of noted international horse racing broadcasters representing four different continents who have broadcasted some of horse racing’s biggest events – from the Kentucky Derby to the Epsom Derby, and from the Dubai World Cup to the Amir Sword Festival and the Darley Award Stakes. The event was, once again, masterfully produced and hosted by Jonathan and Ashley Horowitz, and hosted simultaneously on the Arabian Jockey Club (AJC) Facebook LIVE (sponsored by RoseBrook Farm) and the ARC YouTube channel (sponsored by the Texas Arabian Breeders Association).
The ARC extends its congratulations, once again, to the following Darley Award winners of the 2020 racing year:
FIRST CLASSS: Darley Three-year Old Colt/Gelding of the Year
UPTOWN LADY ARABELLA: Darley Three-year Old Filly of the Year
RB RICH LYKE ME: Darley Four-year Old Colt/Gelding of the Year
RB KINETIC: Darley Four-year Old Filly of the Year
PADDYS DAY: Darley Older Horse of the Year
UPTOWN SANDY GIRL: Darley Older Mare of the Year
KRISTA and JON HENNINGSGARD: Darley Breeder of the Year
ROSEBROOK FARMS LLC: Darley Owner of the Year
ERNESTO VALDEZ-JIMINEZ: Darley Jockey of the Year
UPTOWN SANDY GIRL: Darley Horse of the Year
Trainer Category: The ARC Chief Steward elected not to award a 2020 Trainer of the Year. In its place, a special video compilation was produced that recognised all winning USA trainers in 2020.
Uptown Sandy Girl – The Darley Horse of the Year 2020. Credit Coady Photography
This year’s Horse of the Year Category was comprised of monumental talent. The nominees included: Dance With Me BW, Paddys Day, and Uptown Sandy Girl – a group that has already collectively won a whopping eleven Darley Awards in previous years and are truly legends in the sport. But the nod went to superstar mare, Uptown Sandy Girl, the first homebred Darley Horse of the Year for Jon and Krista Henningsgard of Uptown Arabians based just outside Houston in Waller, Texas. Krista was emotional talking about the win for her and her husband’s beloved mare.
“We are so pleased with Uptown Sandy Girl being named Darley Horse of the Year for 2020,” said Krista. “She has overcome so much adversity and comes back even stronger every year. It’s always so emotional for us because she was to run so badly; however, if she is not 100%, she always lets me know. When the time comes to call it a day, we know she’ll tell us. Sandy is a stone cold runner and has been since she was a yearling running in the pasture. It was as if she was conditioning herself to be a star even back then.”
This is the fourth Darley Award win for Uptown Sandy Girl, who – in spite of a bout with pneumonia that nearly took her life – has already won Darley Three-year Old Filly in 2017, Darley Four-year Old Filly in 2018, Darley Older Mare in 2019, and now Darley Older Mare and Horse of the Year in 2020. In addition to this year, she was also nominated for Horse of the Year in 2019.
Uptown Sandy Girl with Krista Henningsgard
The Henningsgards have been breeding and racing Arabian racehorses under their black-and-white Uptown Arabians colours since 2010, and are quickly becoming one of the top Arabian race breeders in the country, with an impressive foal-to-champion ratio depicted in its third Darley Award this year for Darley Breeder of the Year. In fact, the enthusiastic couple were the owners and breeders of two additional nominees this year as well – Uptown Cruisedirector, nominee in the Older Horse category, and Uptown Lady Arabella, nominee and champion in the Three-year Old Filly category. All three ‘Uptown’ horses will run in 2021, as well as some up-and-coming young horses in training.
But all eyes were on the star of 2020, Uptown Sandy Girl, a seven-year old grey mare by Burning Sand (San Lou Romirz x Du Smaragda) and out of the Hall of Fame mare, Wibwilcca (Wilkolak x Wibracja) who has earned a whopping $285,890 and won 15 of her 27 lifetime starts. Uptown Sandy Girl also fittingly won the $30,000 Darley Distaff sponsored by Lufthansa Cargo, run at Sam Houston Race Park, less than two hours before she was named 2020 Darley Horse of the Year. Uptown Sandy Girl won under trainer Rachelle Russell and was ridden to victory by jockey Anardis Rodriguez.
The Darley Distaff was followed by the $30,000 Darley Sprint sponsored by Lufthansa Cargo, that became a duel of Darley Four-year Old Colt Champion RB Rich Lyke Me, and the veteran three-time Darley Horse of the Year, ten-year old Paddys Day, who both battled in a 15-length lead over the field. But it was Paddys Day once again to win in the final strides under jockey Shane Laviolette for trainer Todd Fincher and owner Jane R Teutsch.
Paddys Day winning the 2021 Darley Sprint. Credit Coady Photography
After the Darley Awards concluded, the excitement continued with the final hour of bidding in the ARC Stallion Auction, featuring ten breeding lots of world-class Arabian racing sires including:
- Al Mouwaffak, donated by Al Shaqab
- Easter Man, donated by Allegro Arabians
- Gazwan, donated by Al Shahania Stud
- Grilla, donated by Billie Glosser
- Hilal Al Zaman, donated by Al Nujaifi Racing
- Majd Al Arab, donated by Umm Qarn
- Nizam, donated by Umm Qarn
- Mared Al Sahra, donated by Al Shahania Stud
- Seraphin Du Paon, donated by Al Asayl Racing
- Sir Bani Yas, donated by Al Asayl Racing
The popular breeding auction consistently raises significant funding that goes to support the ongoing programmes of the Arabian Racing Cup, including the ARC Breeders Incentive Programme and the Darley Awards. It was the ideal conclusion to wrap up an exciting Darley Awards day, celebrated by Arabian racing enthusiasts throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
“There isn’t a grander celebration of the Arabian racehorse and its people than the Darley Awards, and this year was no exception,” said Michelle Morgan, Past Chief Steward of the USA Darley Awards’ Arabian Racing Cup and owner of Mandolynn Hill Farm located just outside Dallas, Texas. “Even virtually, it was a weekend full of inspiration, fun, excitement, and renewed passion that came from reliving moments and being reminded why we do what we do, regardless of winning a Darley award, or not. It’s what we strive to do.”
The 35th Annual Darley Awards will return to Houston in 2022.
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The Arabian Racing Cup is a non-profit corporation founded in 1983 by Dr Sam Harrison and run by its distinguished Board of Stewards, The Cup is dedicated to the national and international promotion of breeding and racing purebred Arabian horses. Launched in 1987, the Darley Awards are the crowning jewel of the Arabian Racing Cup, recognising the most outstanding racehorses, jockeys, owners and breeders of the Arabian horse community in the United States. For more information, visit www.ArabianRacingCup.com