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Triple Crown Winner Justify Wins 2018 Horse of the Year

Melanie Martines

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the Daily Racing Form (DRF), and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced last night that Justify, horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner who swept the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, was voted the 2018 Horse of the Year at the 48th Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony.

The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, presented by The Stronach Group, DRF, and the Breeders’ Cup, are voted on by the NTRA, DRF, and the NTWAB.

Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, Starlight Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, Justify received 191 out of a possible 249 first-place votes for Horse of the Year. Hronis Racing’s Accelerate, who was voted Champion Older Dirt Horse, received 54 first-place votes to finish second, followed by the filly Monomoy Girl with two votes, and Prince Khalid Abdullah’s filly Enable with one vote. There was one voter abstention.

Justify was also voted the unanimous 3-year-old champion, garnering all 249 votes. He was undefeated in six career starts, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and his Triple Crown sweep. He retired last July due to an ankle injury.

A chestnut son of Scat Daddy out of Stage Magic by 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, Justify was bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, who was also voted Outstanding Breeder of 2018.

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Justify becomes the third Horse of the Year to be trained by Baffert, who also trained the 2015 Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, as well as the 2001 winner Point Given.

“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 (4)
  • Steeplechase Horse: Zanjabeel (5)
  • Owner: Hronis Racing
  • Breeder: John D. Gunther
  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
  • Apprentice Jockey: Weston Hamilton
  • Horse of the Year: Justify

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Voting Overview

In voting that concluded January 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.

Two-Year-Old Filly
Jaywalk, 214; Newspaperofrecord (IRE), 31; Bellafina, 4.

Three-Year-Old Male
Justify, 249.

Three-Year-Old Filly
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.

Male Sprinter
Roy H, 234; City of Light, 9; Imperial Hint, 3; Stormy Liberal, 2; Mind Your Biscuits, 1.

Female Sprinter
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; Chanel 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.

Steeplechase Horse
Zanjabeel (GB), 176; Optimus Prime (FR), 22; Jury Duty (IRE), 12; Iranistan, 4; Balance the Budget, 1; Voter Abstentions, 34.

Owner
Hronis Racing LLC, 141; 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.

Breeder
John D. Gunther, 102; WinStar Farm, LLC 68; Mike Abraham, 21; Calumet Farm, 14; Fred Hertrich III & John 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.

Trainer
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.

Jockey
Irad Ortiz, Jr., 173; Mike Smith, 40; Jose Ortiz, 25; Joel Rosario, 8; Florent Geroux, 1; Javier Castellano, 1; Voter Abstentions, 1.

Apprentice Jockey
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.

Horse of the Year
Justify, 191; Accelerate, 54; Monomoy Girl, 2; Enable, (GB), 1; Voter Abstention, 1.

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 of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The Award of Merit is presented to honor outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.

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