This certainly made the birthday cake taste sweeter!
“This weekend’s results were due to an extraordinary effort from the whole barn,” Graham said. “They work long days and long hours, and we are extremely grateful to them.”
Graham Motion, a native of England who has been a mainstay on the Maryland circuit for more than three decades, claimed the top prize of $50,000 in the Maryland Jockey Club’s $100,000 trainer bonus offered to horsemen for their participation in stakes races over Preakness weekend, May 19 and 20, at Pimlico Race Course.
Motion started seven horses in three stakes over the two days, finishing with 34 points. All his runners came on the undercard of the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), capped by 3-year-old Nagirroc‘s popular 3 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 James W. Murphy on the grass.
Prior to the Murphy, Motion saddled three of the top five finishers in the $100,000 Gallorette (G3T) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the grass—Sopran Basilea (second), Bipartisanship (third), and Vergara (fifth)—and two of the top four finishers in the $200,000 Dinner Party (G3T) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the turf in Hurricane Dream (second) and Speaking Scout (fourth). Easter, also from Motion, ran sixth.
To be eligible for the bonus, trainers had to run a minimum of five horses in the 15 Thoroughbred stakes races during Preakness weekend. Points were accumulated for finishing first (10), second (seven), third (five), fourth (three), and fifth through last (one).
The trainer with the most points earned $50,000, followed by $25,000 for second, $12,000 for third, $7,000 for fourth, $4,000 for fifth, and $2,000 for sixth.
This marked the seventh straight year the MJC has offered the trainer bonus program. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen earned the top prize in 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022. Brad Cox (2019) and Mike Maker (2020) have also led the standings.
Motion, who turned 59 May 22, is based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. He is a career winner of 2,653 races including the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Animal Kingdom. He has also won Breeders’ Cup races with Sharing, Main Sequence, Shared Account, and Better Talk Now and was co-leading trainer at Pimlico’s 2017 Preakness Meet.
Photo by Chad B. Harmon/BloodHorse