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Justify voted 2018 Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards; Irad Ortiz voted top jockey

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) announced Thursday that Justify  was voted the 2018 Horse of the Year, at the 48th Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Justify is shown here winning the Kentucky Derby in May (file photo).

Justify became horse racing’s 13thTriple Crown winner by sweeping the 3-year-old classics of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes,

Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon the Thoroughbred horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective divisions. The Eclipse Awards are named after the great 18th-Century racehorse and foundation sire Eclipse, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts, including eight walkovers. Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies.

The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing, presented by The Stronach Group, Daily Racing Formand the Breeders’ Cup, are voted on by the NTRA, Daily Racing Form(DRF) and the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club Intl., Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners and trained by Bob Baffert, 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 (GB) 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 Santa Anita Derby and his Triple Crown sweep. He was retired in July of last year 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.

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.

“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.”

In other awards, the Baffert-trained Game Winner was named Champion Two-Year-Old Male for owners Gary and Mary West. Trainer Peter Miller saddled two Eclipse Award winners: Roy H repeated as Champion Male Sprinter and Stormy Liberal claimed the Champion Male Turf Horse title.

Sistercharlie (IRE), winner of the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, was voted Female Turf Horse. She is trained by Chad Brown, who won the Outstanding Trainer award for the third consecutive year.

Hronis Racing LLC, which campaigned Accelerate to the Champion Older Dirt Male title, won the Outstanding Owner Award.

Irad Ortiz, Jr., who led all riders in wins with 346 and total earnings of more than $27 million was named Champion Jockey.

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

·        Horse of the Year:Justify (3)

In voting that concluded January 2, 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.

Voter participation rate was91.88 precent, with249 of 271 of those eligible participating.


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