The past year has brought innumerable changes. But in the equine world, some things, like Eddie Woods excelling in conditioning and consigning talented horses, remain the same. For 2020, multiple grade 1 winner Authentic , a graduate of the Eddie Woods Training Center in Ocala, Florida, earned Horse of the Year honors, while Woods was the leading consignor at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales March sale.
“Well, the sale at OBS was very much controlled,” Woods said. “Masks and all the right things going on, social distancing, et cetera.” But Woods and his wife, Angela, were thrilled with their spring success. “Definitely in March, there was a great field at that sale,” he commented. “It was the most vibrant sale we’ve had in years. People were actually wanting to buy horses and then that showed in the results; the attendance was great.”
He sold five head for $500,000 or more. Three juveniles— fillies by American Pharoah and Munnings and a colt Gormley —went under the hammer for $550,000. “They were nice horses,” Woods said. “I think the one colt that brought 550—I didn’t think, going over there, we could get that for a Gormley, but we did. And the ‘Pharoah’ filly that brought 550, she was a special filly, and it was great to see her bring that. It wasn’t a surprise, so to speak.” A War Front filly out of a stakes-winning daughter of Serena’s Song sold for $525,000. “It was probably the best pedigree in the book,” said Woods.
Next up? “We got a bunch of horses at OBS April. They shipped in and they’re over the last couple of days,” he said, adding, “April’s usually a blur, anyway.” He plans to take a handful of horses to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale at Timonium. The Woodses are recognizable by their number-one fan—their Maltese dog, Brutus. “He goes to most sales if it’s viable,” Woods said. “We didn’t bring him to Gulfstream because Evan Ferraro told us we’d have to teach him to meow.” Angela described the pup as “quite the promoter.”
Authentic’s triumphs proved another source of joy. “There’s always a bright spot, always, if you hang around,” Woods said. “It was great to have him. He’s a lovely horse, great horse, probably should’ve won the Preakness [Stakes], too, but didn’t.” Whitmore , another Woods alum, also took home an Eclipse Award as 2020’s top sprinter.
Reading off a list of recent top-flight winners is like reading a roster of Woods graduates. On March 20, two Woods graduates—Travel Column and United —annexed the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and San Luis Rey Stakes (G3T), respectively. A month earlier, Woods-consigned Cafe Pharoah won the February Stakes (G1) in Japan, while January saw White Frost and Mucho Unusual take graded stakes.
What is Woods’ secret? “We just go slow all the time, you know what I mean,” he shared. “The breaking process is a very controlled environment and it’s slow and steady. And any horse that’s a bit fussy and needs more time gets more time.” He noted, “People think breaking the horses is this big rodeo that goes on for two weeks; it’s not quite that way.”
Woods breaks a couple of hundred horses each year and consigns about 125. “You don’t know when you’re good,” he said of talented youngsters, “but you know when you’re in trouble.” However, Lady Eli ranks as one of his favorites. “Well, she is,” Woods shared, “’cause she was so tough and she went through so much.” Woods consigned the daughter of Divine Park to the 2014 Keeneland April Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training, where she fetched $160,000 from Jay Hanley.
“And then the first real good horse was Left Bank,” he continued. Demi O’Byrne bought the French Deputy colt for $600,000 at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. The handsome chestnut tallied three graded stakes wins in 2002; his win in the Whitney Handicap (G1) catapulted him to an Eclipse Award for champion older male. “And then we had our [2008 Kentucky] Derby [G1] horse, Big Brown ,” he reminisced. Woods purchased the future classic winner for $60,000 in 2006, then pinhooked him to Paul Pompa Jr. for $190,000 at two.