(Arklow winning at KY Downs / Coady Photography)
Doegal Racing’s well-traveled Grade 1-winner Arklow was honored Wednesday for his exploits right at home as the 6-year-old horse was feted as the 2020 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund’s Earner of the Year.
“We’re very excited about this award for Arklow. It’s very cool,” said Jerry Crawford, founder and president of the Des Moines-based Donegal Racing partnership. “This business is so, so hard for owners. When you get a horse that can pay some feed bills, it’s gratifying in multiple ways to say nothing of all the excitement it creates.”
Now 7, Arklow was recognized at the Kentucky-bred Champions Awards ceremony, presented by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (KTOB) and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association (KTA), at Keeneland. Frank Penn, co-breeder of the $160,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase in 2015, accepted the trophy on Donegal’s behalf.
The Brad Cox-trained Arklow earned $849,734 in his seven-race campaign last year, capped by taking Kentucky Downs’ $1 million, Grade 3 Calumet Turf Cup for the second time in three years, sandwiched around a second in 2019. Arklow also finished second by a head in Churchill Downs’ $100,000 Louisville Stakes (G3). The son of the late Claiborne Farm stallion Arch concluded 2020 by shipping out to Del Mar — his 12th different racetrack – to capture the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2).
The KTDF award recognizes Kentucky-bred horses racing much of the year in the Commonwealth and is based on earnings at Kentucky tracks. Arklow earned $608,184 racing in graded stakes at Kentucky Downs, Churchill Downs and Keeneland. He made an additional $80,000 while a close sixth in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland, though those earnings did not count toward the award.
“Donegal has always loved racing in Kentucky,” Crawford said. “The KTDF purse supplements make you love it even more. Take a horse like Arklow, who only ran in graded stakes in 2020. The Kentucky-bred incentive program rewards excellence, being staged against open company. As purses in Kentucky have increased, in no small measure because of the KTDF, so has the competition. So to be KTDF Earner of the Year becomes even more of a feat in which my partners and I take great pride.”
Cox, the 2020 Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding trainer, also was recognized Wednesday as the KTDF Trainer of the Year.
“The KTDF is a great program and makes lucrative opportunities for Kentucky horsemen,” Cox said. “Kentucky-bred horses compete world-wide, but it’s obviously nice when you can race right here in our own state. It’s an achievement, for sure, for Arklow to be the KTDF Earner of the Year, and I’m extremely proud to be the KTDF Trainer of the Year as well.”
For his career, Arklow is 8-7-2 in 31 starts with earnings of $2,666,116 for Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and the Estate of Peter Coneway. Those victories include New York’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park in 2019.
“The KTDF awards have always been reflective of what’s running within the circuit,” said Chauncey Morris, the KTA-KTOB’s executive director. “To see a horse like Arklow and owner Donegal Racing at the highest level here in Kentucky just shows how we’re evolving into the top tier racing jurisdiction in the United States.”
Crawford said Arklow got a couple of months off after running in the Breeders’ Cup Turf for the third time.
“There’s at least a 50-percent chance of him getting back to the races on May 1 in the Grade 1, Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic on Derby Day,” Crawford said. “And for the fourth straight year, we will be pointing for the Calumet Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs, where Arklow has had two wins and a second out of three tries.”
Arklow has raced on Kentucky Derby Day twice before, earning his first stakes victory in the 2017 American Turf (G2) and finishing fourth in the Old Forester in 2018. The Sept. 11 Calumet Turf Cup will run run as a Grade 2 stakes for the first time for 2021.