When Hull skipped under the wire 4 lengths clear to take this afternoon’s Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs, he became stakes winner number 100 to represent a racing partnership formed by Team Valor International owner Barry Irwin since 1987. This year has been a vintage one for milestones for Irwin, who celebrated birthday number 66 earlier in the week at his headquarters in Versailles, Kentucky.
“To achieve this milestone with a horse that Team Valor owns in partnership with Corrine and Bill Heiligbrodt and Gary Barber makes it all the more special,” said Irwin.
“We have raced many, many Grade 1 winners and Champions together and we are hopeful that Hull will become the next one.”
In a year of milestones, stakes winner 100 follows closely on the heels of stakes win number 200 achieved by a partnership horse just a month earlier, when Gypsy’s Warning took the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic in South Africa.
As if this was not enough, just two weeks ago, Irwin was winning race number 700 with a partnership horse when National Yearling Sale purchase My Kazzie romped home by 8 ½ to take a maiden race in South Africa like a Champion in the making.
Irwin said “This definitely looks like a year for records, that’s for sure. Last year, we broke the stable mark for number of winning races with 67. We began slowly and finished up strongly. This year we have begun with a steady stream of winners and are way ahead of last season’s record pace.”
The win by Hull today was victory number 24 from 91 starts this season, which represents a winning strike rate of 26.4 percent.
The win was also stakes victory number 7 of the season and Irwin said the stable record of 21 set in 1993 is “definitely reachable” in 2009.
Victory by Hull made him stakes horse number 179, Graded stakes runner (won or placed in a Graded stakes race) number 130 and Graded stakes winner number 65 for a racing partnership formed by “B. Eye” since 1987.