D. Wayne Lukas doesn't give up on them.
Few trainers in Thoroughbred racing would have had the faith to press on at the top level with Willis Horton's filly Take Charge Brandi after she went wildly off form during a four-race losing skid.
But the man who has won more Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup races than anyone didn't train 25 prior champions by letting doubt cloud his Hall of Fame knowledge. And he knew what was possible once he got that filly right.
Lukas now has champion No. 26 residing in his barn after Take Charge Brandi was named 2014's top 2-year-old filly during the 44th annual Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park on Saturday night.
Take Charge Brandi garnered 236 of a possible 265 first-place votes, cementing a brilliant three-month turnaround.
The chestnut filly had lost four previous outings by a combined 38 lengths heading into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 1 but stunned the field that day when she won at odds of 61-1.
Knowing voters would dismiss that effort as a fluke, Lukas and Horton gamely wheeled Take Charge Brandi back in the Grade III Delta Princess on Nov. 22, a race she won by 11/2 lengths, then took her to the Grade I Starlet at Los Alamitos on Dec. 13 when she toppled that field by half a length.
Take Charge Brandi, a daughter of Giant's Causeway, continues to add to one of the best family trees in the sport as she is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, who is a half-sister to 2013 champion 3-year-old male Will Take Charge.
Will Take Charge was also trained by Lukas and owned by Horton.
As Lukas and Horton celebrated Eclipse glory yet again, owner Ahmed Zayat and his family got to relish the elation of having their first champion.
Zayat Stables' multiple Grade I-winning colt American Pharoah took the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male in what was the closest voting of any division. The bay son of Pioneerof the Nile edged out Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red by 15 votes, getting 126 first-place nods to Texas Red's 111.
American Pharoah finished fifth in his career debut at Del Mar in August but was most impressive in taking the Grade I Del Mar Futurity next time out by 43/4 lengths.
His 31/4-length win in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes made him the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park but he was scratched from the race four days before when a despondent Bob Baffert announced his trainee had a deep foot bruise.
Ironically, Texas Red's subsequent 61/2-length win in the Breeders' Cup further flattered American Pharoah as the Juvenile winner ran third behind his rival in the FrontRunner Stakes.
American Pharoah is back in galloping and could make his season debut in March.