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Angel of Empire Named Pennsylvania Horse of the Year

The 2023 Arkansas Derby (G1) winner also recognized as the 3-year-old male champion.

Angel of Empire after winning the 2023 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park

Angel of Empire after winning the 2023 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park

Coady Photography

Angel of Empire, winner of the 2023 Arkansas Derby (G1), bolstered his resume when named 2023 Pennsylvania-bred Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male at the May 10 Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association's 45th annual Iroquois Awards. 

Racing in 2023 for Albaugh Family Stables and trained by Brad Cox, Angel of Empire won two of six starts during his 3-year-old season while racing exclusively in stakes. The bay son of Classic Empire started the year at Oaklawn Park with a runner-up effort in the Smarty Jones Stakes before upsetting the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at odds of 13-1. He followed up that effort with a 4 1/4-length romp in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1). Following the scratch of Forte , Angel of Empire assumed favoritism in the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1), rallying from 16th to finish third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Mage .

He subsequently dead-heated for fourth in the Belmont Stakes (G1), beaten only 2 1/4 lengths. His final start of the year came when third, beaten a half-length, by Forte in the Jim Dandy (G2). He was Pennsylvania's richest state-bred of the year, with $1,446,375.

Recording the first two victories of his career at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Indiana, Angel of Empire was purchased in utero by breeders Christian & Christina Black's Forgotten Land Investment & Black Diamond Equine. He was purchased for $70,000 by Albaugh Family Stables at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. 

The Iroquois Awards were held May 10 at The Inn at Mendenhall in Chadds Ford. The evening's guest speaker was Tom Durkin, longtime voice of Thoroughbred racing. Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was Glenn Brok, whose many contributions to Thoroughbred racing included his Diamond B Farm in Mohrsville, Pa., and Brook Ledge Horse Transportation.

Other divisional champions:

Two-year-old female—Carmelina(Maximus Mischief —Complete St., by St Averil); bred by Lilith E. Boucher.

Two-year-old male—Drum Roll Please (Hard Spun —Imply, by E Dubai); bred by Barlar.

Three-year-old female—Neecie Marie(Cross Traffic —Lode Lady, by Posse); bred by Jon A. Marshall.

Older female, turf female, and female sprinter—Caravel(Mizzen Mast—Zeezee Zoomzoom, by Congrats); bred by Elizabeth M. Merryman.

Older male—Nimitz Class (Munnings —Five Diamonds, by Flatter); bred by Arrowwood Farm.

Male sprinter—Twisted Ride (Great Notion —Diva's Gold, by Tenpins); bred by Kasey K Racing Stable.

Turf male—Our Shot (Kantharos —Fleetheart, by Northern Afleet); bred by Dr. S. Mark Rayburg.

The PHBA recognized State Representatives Mary Jo Daley (Montgomery County), Danilo Burgos (Philadelphia County), and Kristine C. Howard (Chester County) with Legislator Awards. Ryerss Farm for Aged Equine, a non-profit organization dedicated to rehoming rescued and retired horses aged 20-plus, was presented the PHBA Award of Merit. 

Additional PHBA awards were presented to Pennsylvania-preferred female Aoife's Magic (Smarty Jones) and Pennsylvania-preferred male Gordian Knot (Social Inclusion) as top Pennsylvania-bred and sired runners; Thoroughbred Makeover Top Pennsylvania-bred Phlox; and Broodmare of the Year Zeezee Zoomzoom, dam of Caravel and turf male and male sprinter finalist Witty.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.