Undefeated Triple Crown winner Justify was named 2018 Horse of the Year at Thursday evening's 48th annual Eclipse Awards Dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The Scat Daddy colt, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, who also received an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Breeder. Justify is owned by a partnership consisting of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners.
Justify, who won all six of his career starts from Feb. 18 through the Belmont Stakes on June 9, was retired due to injury in mid-summer to stand at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Runner-up in Horse of the Year voting was Accelerate, the 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic winner who won won six of seven starts, including five Grade 1 – his only loss coming in the Oaklawn Park Handicap in April. Accelerate is trained by John Sadler and is owned by Kosta and Pete Hronis's Hronis Racing, which received the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Owner. The son of Lookin At Lucky was bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham. Accelerate is scheduled to make his final career start on Saturday in the $9-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park, then will embark upon a stud career at Lane's End in Kentucky.
Justify received 191 out of a possible 249 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Hronis Racing's Acceleratereceived 54 first-place votes to finish second, followed by the filly Monomoy Girl with two votes, and Prince Khalid Abdullah's filly Enable (GB) with one vote. There was one voter abstention.
Justify and Accelerate also won Eclipse Awards in their respective divisions, 3-Year-Old Male and Older Dirt Male. Monomoy Girl was voted Outstanding 3-Year-Old Filly.
Justify becomes the third Horse of the Year to be trained by Baffert, who also trained 2015 Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and the 2001 winner Point Given. Baffert had a second Eclipse Award winner of 2018 when Mary and Gary West's Game Winner was voted Outstanding 2-Year-Old Male.
“I'm so proud of Justify and I'm happy to see he is being rewarded for his unbelievable accomplishments in his run up to the Triple Crown,” Baffert said. “I've had the great fortune to be around some of the most talented horses and what Justify was able to do in such a short amount of time still takes my breath away. He is truly a horse for the ages and deserves his place among racing's elite. I'm grateful to WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Bloodstock for sending this horse to me to train. It has been an honor and privilege and a hell of a lot of fun to be part of his story.”
The complete list of 2018 Eclipse Awards winners and vote totals appears below:
(Horse ages in parenthesis where applicable; Country codes indicate a foreign breeding designation)
- Two-Year-Old Male: Game Winner
- Two-Year-Old Filly: Jaywalk
- Three-Year-Old Male: Justify
- Three-Year-Old Filly: Monomoy Girl
- Older Dirt Male: Accelerate (5)
- Older Dirt Female: Unique Bella(4)
- Male Sprinter: Roy H (6)
- Female Sprinter: Shamrock Rose (3)
- Male Turf Horse: Stormy Liberal (6)
- Female Turf Horse: Sistercharlie (IRE) (4)
- Steeplechase Horse: Zanjabeel (GB) (5)
- Owner: Hronis Racing LLC
- Breeder: John D. Gunther
- Trainer: Chad Brown
- Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
- Apprentice Jockey: Weston Hamilton
In voting that concluded Jan. 2, 2019, Eclipse Awards voters cast their ballots to rank the top three horses and individuals in each Championship division on a 10-5-1 point system basis. This voting established the top three finalists in each division, whose names were released on Jan. 5, 2019.
The tallies below represent only first-place votes from members of the consolidated voting entities, NTRA, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.
Voter participation rate: 249/271= 91.88%
Two-Year-Old Male (Name, First-Place Votes)
Game Winner, 247; Bulletin,1; Knicks Go, 1.
Jaywalk, 214; Newspaperofrecord (IRE), 31; Bellafina, 4.
Monomoy Girl, 247; Magical (IRE), 1; Rushing Fall, 1.
Older Dirt Male
Accelerate, 245; Gun Runner, 2; Discreet Lover, 1; Roy H, 1.
Older Dirt Female
Unique Bella, 182; Abel Tasman, 34; Marley's Freedom, 14; Blue Prize (ARG), 9; Wow Cat (CHI), 9; Voter Abstention, 1.
Roy H, 234; City of Light, 9; Imperial Hint, 3; Stormy Liberal, 2; Mind Your Biscuits, 1.
Shamrock Rose, 136; Marley's Freedom, 113.
Male Turf Horse
Stormy Liberal, 85;Expert Eye, 66 (GB); Glorious Empire (IRE), 43; Catholic Boy 14; Heart to Heart, 12; Catapult, 8; Channel Maker, 7; Raging Bull (FR), 7; Robert Bruce (CHI), 2; Funtastic, 1; Oscar Performance, 1; Yoshida (JPN) 1; Voter Abstentions, 2.
Female Turf Horse
Sistercharlie, 130; Enable, 119.
Zanjabeel (GB), 176; Optimus Prime (FR), 22; Jury Duty (IRE), 12; Iranistan, 4; Balance the Budget, 1; Voter Abstentions, 34.
Hronis Racing LLC, 142; Peter Brant, 27; WinStar Farm, China Horse Club Intl., Starlight Racing, Head of Plains Partners, 25; Calumet Farm, 8; Klaravich Stables, Inc., 8; Godolphin Racing, 6; End Zone Athletics, 5; WinStar Farm, 5; Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen, 4; Sol Kumin 3; Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, Bethlehem Stables, 2; China Horse Club, 1; China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, 1; Juddmonte Farms, 1; Loooch Racing Stables, 1; Voter Abstentions, 10.
John D. Gunther, 102; WinStar Farm, LLC, 68; Mike Abraham, 21; Calumet Farm, 14; Fred Hertrich III & John D. Fielding, 13; Juddmonte Farms, 8; Summer Wind Equine, 5; Kenneth & Sarah Ramsey, 3; Brereton C. Jones, 2; Besilu Stables, 1; FPF LLC & Highfield Ranch, 1; Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, 1; Spendthrift Farm, 1; Voter Abstentions, 9.
Chad Brown, 137; Bob Baffert, 94; Steve Asmussen, 6; Brad Cox, 4; John Sadler, 2; Karl Broberg, 2; Jason Servis, 1; Jerry Hollendorfer, 1. Voter Abstentions, 2.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., 173; Mike Smith, 40; Jose Ortiz, 25; Joel Rosario, 8; Florent Geroux, 1; Javier Castellano, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.
Weston Hamilton, 115; Edgar Morales, 87; Reylu Gutierrez, 11; Heriberto Figueroa, 7; Kazushi Kimura, 3; Assael Espinoza, 2; Evin Roman, 1; Johan Rosado, 1; Voter Abstentions, 22.
Award of Merit
The recipient of the Award of Merit, voted on by a panel of representatives from the three presenting organizations and previously announced, is Joe Harper, Chief Executive Officer of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.The Award of Merit is presented to honor outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.
Media Eclipse Awards
Media Eclipse Awards also are given in the categories of photography, audio and multi-media Internet, news/enterprise writing, feature/commentary writing, national television–feature and national television–live racing programming to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing. The 2018 Media Eclipse Awards winners, determined by a judges' panel for each category and previously announced, are:
Feature/Commentary Writing – Tim Layden, SI.com; “Remembering Chic Anderson's Legendary Call of Secretariat's Record Run at 1973 Belmont Stakes”; June, 4, 2018
News/Enterprise Writing – Jeremy Balan, BloodHorse.com; “San Luis Rey Horsemen Faced Brutal Challenges in Fire”; Dec. 13, 2017
Television – Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports, 2018 Belmont Stakes, June, 9, 2018
Television – Features – NBC Sports, “San Luis Rey Fires”; May 5, 2018
Audio/Multi-Media Internet – Christie DeBernardis & Patty Wolfe, TDN Weekend; “Cozmic One: Shining New Light on OTTBs”; July 1, 2018
Photography – Barbara D. Livingston, DRF.com; “Firenze Fire and Whereshetoldmetogo in Gallant Bob Stakes”; Sept. 9, 2018
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