For the first time in nine years and for the third time overall, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum's Godolphin LLC was recognized at the Eclipse Award ceremonies as America's Outstanding Owner.
Horses carrying Godolphin's royal blue colors got their pictures taken 80 times in 2020, good for a remarkable strike rate of 22.2%. The operation was represented by no fewer than a joint-best eight winners at the graded stakes level (tied with Gary Barber) for a broad swath of conditioners, highlighted by the Brad Cox-trained champion Essential Quality (Tapit), who won the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity and the GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile a handful of furlongs away from Darley America's base at Jonabell Farm. Another Godolphin homebred Fair Maiden (Street Boss), closed the season on a high note with an upset victory in Santa Anita's GI La Brea S. for trainer Eoin Harty. Godolphin's three top-level wins was good for a second-place tie behind Klaravich Stables' four Grade I tallies. 'TDN Rising Star' Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) and Pixelate (City Zip) were trained by Mike Stidham to victories in the GII Jim Dandy S. and GII Del Mar Derby, respectively, while Brendan Walsh sent out the comebacking Maxfield (Street Sense) to win the GIII Matt Winn S. Darley America's aforementioned Eclipse Award-winning juvenile was also responsible for Shared Sense, who annexed the GIII Indiana and Oklahoma Derbys for Eclipse Award winner Cox.
Essential Quality is likely to begin his assault on this year's Triple Crown in the GIII Southwest S. at Oaklawn Feb. 15, while Maxfield has races like the $20-million Saudi Cup and G1 Dubai World Cup as potential targets.