TIMONIUM — Voting is underway for Maryland-bred divisional champions and horse of the year in what is known as the annual Renaissance Awards.
Ballots were sent out at the end of January by email to more than two dozen individuals who follow thoroughbred racing in Maryland. They represent the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Racing Media Association and Maryland Jockey Club.
Among the nominees are runners from two breeding farms in the Chestertown area: Dance Forth Farm (veterinarian Dr. Tom Bowman, his wife Chris Bowman and their son Dr. Brooke Bowman, also a veterinarian) and Thornmar Farm (Charles and Cynthia McGinnes).
In the COVIID-shortened 2020 racing season, Maryland racing was able to celebrate its two biggest events — the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park, which were contested in the same month for the first time.
Among the eight different categories for equine candidates, a handful of local products appear on the ballot. Two of them also are included in a second category, and all five theoretically can be considered for Maryland-bred horse of the year.
Of the five Maryland-bred 2-year-old fillies that appear on the ballot — write-in votes also are accepted for each category — Street Lute is poised to be crowned champion juvenile filly.
A daughter of Street Magician out of a Midnight Lute mare, Street Lute won five of six starts and earned $290,000 for trainer John “Jerry” Robb and owner Lucky 7 Stables.
She was bred by the Bowmans.
Street Lute emerged on the scene Labor Day weekend when she prevailed in her career debut in a maiden special weight race at Delaware Park. She returned to that oval three weeks later to capture the Small Wonder Stakes.
After suffering her lone defeat in the Maryland Million Lassie to Miss Nondescript, Street Lute capped her freshman campaign by winning three more stakes.
She has kicked off her sophomore campaign with another stakes victory.
Another Bowman-bred, Alwaysinahurry, is a candidate for champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old colt or gelding.
Trained by Dale Capuano, this local product finished his freshman season with a solid 2-3-1 slate and just shy of $100,000 from eight starts.
Alwaysinahurry is not likely to win the division because nominees Jaxon Traveler and After Five both earned considerably more money and held their own in numerous stakes.
Like Street Lute, Alwaysinahurry was a runner-up on Maryland Million Day.
There were no local products among the short list of nominees for champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly. This division has reigning Maryland-bred horse of the year, Sharing, and the razor sharp Hello Beautiful.
Sharing spent much of her sophomore campaign in Grade I company on the turf.
Hello Beautiful, a dominant force in local stakes on the main track at Laurel Park, is being pointed for the Grade III $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Stakes on Feb. 13.
Bowman-breds Double Crown and Monday Morning Qb are nominees for Maryland-bred 3-year-old colt or gelding.
Double Crown, a son of Bourbon Courage trained by Katherine Ritvo, finished the 2020 season with a 2-2-1 slate and $150,000 banked from five starts. He won the $75,000 Carry Back Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida, was third in the Grade III Smile Stakes there and then ran second in the Grade III Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico.
Double Crown won his career debut as a juvenile at Laurel Park for previous trainer, Lacey Gaudet.
Monday Morning Qb, a son of Imagining trained by Robert Reid Jr., only recorded one victory last year but it was certainly a memorable and emphatic one. He captured the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic by three lengths. Later, he was second as the favorite in the Grade III Discovery Stakes at Aqueduct Race Track in New York.
Monday Morning Qb was second to Happy Saver in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel, a commendable effort considering that Happy Saver came right back to take the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious events.
Double Crown and Monday Morning Qb should get plenty of support from the voters in the chase for champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old male in a division that includes Field Pass, Fiya and Karan’s Notion.
Field Pass won a pair of Grade III races last year.
Fiya and Karan’s Notion prevailed on Maryland Million Day, typically a date that resonates well with voters.
There were no local products among the candidates for champion Maryland-bred filly or mare.
Still Having Fun, trained by Tim Keefe and bred by Keefe and the McGinneses, is a nominee in the older male category despite having failed to win a race from four tries.
He was third in the Grade III $250,000 General George, fifth in the Toboggan and eighth in the Grade I Carter Handicap.
Still Having Fun appears to be on the outside looking in.
Harpers First Ride and Laki, both winners of graded stakes last fall, are also among the contenders for older male.
Kicks Go, who capped the 2020 campaign by taking the Grade I Breeders Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs, is the solid favorite for Maryland-bred older male and horse of the year.
Double Crown and Still Having Fun also are among the candidates for champion Maryland-bred sprinter for 2020, but they appear to be also-rans in a category that includes Fiya, Karan’s Notion, Laki and Hello Beautiful.
Technically, all five local products are considered for Maryland-bred horse of the year.
Double Crown, Monday Morning Qb and Street Lute might get recognition on several ballots, but the top contenders for that coveted title include Knicks Go, Sharing and Hello Beautiful.