Authentic won the Kentucky Derby. Photo by Coady Photography.

The fourth annual Renaissance Awards took place, the Kentucky Derby may be open to a larger crowd than originally planned this year, and two jockeys are left on probation after a fist fight  was caught on tape at Gulfstream Park.

Here is the 411 on what racing fans in the Mid-Atlantic region have been talking about on social media this past week:

Maryland’s best saluted

Maryland’s fourth annual Renaissance Awards ceremony recently took place, with awards for top Maryland owner, trainer, jockey, breeder, broodmare and stallion, and Backstretch Workers of the Year handed out. The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) Unsung Hero and champion Maryland-breds of 2020 were also honored at the event, which was virtual this year because the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Maryland Horse Breeders’ Association, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and the Maryland Jockey Club hosted the virtual event.

Top prize went to Knicks Go, who was crowned as the Maryland-Bred Horse of the Year for 2020 and was also honored as the top older male. The five-year-old son of Paynter was untouchable in 2020, taking down three races in a row, including a record-breaking score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Bred by Angie Moore, who was honored as the Champion Breeder of 2020, the gray horse possesses a lifetime record of six wins from nineteen starts, and earnings of $4,588,995 for owners Korea Racing Authority and trainer Brad Cox.

Other thoroughbreds who were recognized at the Renaissance Awards Ceremony were Champion Two-Year-Old Male Jaxon Traveler, Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Street Lute, Champion Three-Year-Old Male Field Pass, Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Champion Turf Runner Sharing, Champion Older Female Never Enough Time, and Champion Sprinter Laki. Great Notion was also honored at the event, taking home the title of Maryland’s top stallion for the fifth consecutive year. Love’s Reason was named as the Champion Broodmare of 2020.

Other awards honored during the ceremony went to Maryland Owner of the Year Robert Bone,  Maryland Trainer of the Year Claudio Gonzalez, Maryland Jockey of the Year Trevor McCarthy, Pimlico Backstretch Employee of the Year Edgar Gallegos, Laurel Park Backstretch Employee of the Year Antonio Lopez Salazar, and MTHA’s Unsung Hero Victor Carrasco.

Fans at the Derby?

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear made the announcement Monday that businesses in his state may now open at 60 percent capacity. This comes as intriguing news to horse racing fans, as this may mean a larger crowd at Churchill Downs for the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Churchill Downs had initially been planning on opening their track up to a capacity of 40-50 percent for the “Run for the Roses.” However, with Covid-19 cases on the decline of late, Beshear states that he will continue watching the number of positive Covid-19 cases before an official decision is made in regard to the fan limit for the Kentucky Derby.

“We may adjust our ticketing plans as we see further improvement in the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. We plan to deliver an exciting Derby week experience for all of our guests.” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen stated.

Last year, there were no fans present during the running of the Kentucky Derby due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The race, which traditionally takes place the first Saturday in May, had also been rescheduled to September 5 due to complications surrounding the pandemic.

If all goes according to plan this year, the Kentucky Derby is set for May 1.

Jockeys behaving badly

A fight broke out between two jockeys at Gulfstream Park last Friday, resulting in probation for both and a fine of $1,000 for one of the two jockeys involved.

The fight took place after Race 4 on Friday, in which Irad Ortiz Jr. won aboard Known Agenda. Jockey Paco Lopez piloted Top Gun Tommy, who was the runner-up in that race. According to the official charts, Known Agenda “took over outside Top Gun Tommy” in the far turn, “getting his hind end brushed by the latter at the top of the stretch.”. Following the race, Lopez filed an objection against the winner for alleged interference, but his claim was dismissed.

The incident between riders in the stretch carried over after the race, when Ortiz later began punching Lopez, who was seated in a chair when the first punch was thrown. The fight was captured on video.

Because Ortiz was the only one who threw punches, he was fined $1,000, while Lopez did not incur a fine. Both riders were placed on “probation,” meaning that future altercations could mean additional fines, suspensions, or expulsions from the grounds.