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Spotlight on: The Women of the Eclipse Awards

The 53rd Annual Eclipse Awards returned to The Breakers Palm Beach on January 25, 2024, for a star-studded evening honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing this past year. 

Co-hosted by three women—Britney Eurton, Acacia Courtney Clement and Caton Bredar—the evening highlighted the achievements of several females. While their stories may not all be known publicly, their efforts are making an impact throughout the sport of racing and are something to be showcased. 


The darling of the year, 2023 Big Sport of Turfdom winner Jena Antonucci, saw her trainee Arcangelo take home the Eclipse Award as Champion Three-Year-Old Male. Jena became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race when Arcangelo won the Belmont Stakes last June. Solidifying her role as a leading female voice in the sport, she inspired us all when she famously said, “If you can’t find a seat at the table, build your own table,” following the Classic victory.


When Inspiral won the Eclipse Award as Champion Female Turf Horse, it was the icing on the cake of an incredible year for her owner Patricia Thompson. Owner of Cheveley Park Stud in the United Kingdom, Patricia has transformed Newmarket’s oldest farm since she purchased it with her late husband in 1975. 


Amongst the human categories, Sofia Vives was a finalist for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. The 21-year-old ranked second in wins among North American-based apprentices last year while racking up purse earnings of more than $3.5 million. While she didn’t take home the Eclipse Award, there is no doubt her future is bright. 


Barbara Banke, who continues to build her own legacy in the sport in the name of her Stonestreet Farm, was a finalist for Outstanding Breeder in 2023. A breast cancer survivor and a Global Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Barbara is building on the indelible mark her late husband, Jess Jackson, made on the sport. Under Barbara’s leadership, Stonestreet has increased the size of its racing stable and broodmare band, producing champions and Grade I winners year after year. In addition to overseeing farms in central Kentucky, Barbara established the Stonestreet Training and Rehabilitation Center near Ocala, Florida. Barbara serves the sport in many other ways and continues to help improve every aspect of racing and breeding. 


And last but certainly not least, the shining story of the evening was that of Cody’s Wish, who took home the NTRA Moment of the Year, voted on by fans, as well as Eclipse Awards as Champion Older Dirt Male and Horse of the Year. Behind Cody’s Wish, and behind Cody, are his mother Leslie and sister Kylie, who often stay out of the spotlight. Kylie joined NTRA President and CEO Tom Rooney on stage at the culmination of the evening to announce that Cody’s Wish had won Horse of the Year. Their strength, poise, and grace both at the Eclipse Awards and throughout the public journey of Cody’s Wish are merely a small fraction of the strength, care and love the Dorman family provided Cody throughout his life. 


The Eclipse Awards mark a time each year when the industry comes together to celebrate the tremendous achievements of our equine and human athletes, without whom our sport would not exist. We are proud to be able to highlight just a small sampling of the women who excelled in 2023 and who contribute to the industry in many, many ways. 

Photo credit Sara Kauss Photography

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