Of the 271 eligible voters representing the NTRA, the NTWAB, and Daily Racing Form, 249 (91.88%) took part in this year’s voting. Finalists were determined in each category by voters’ top three selections, using a 10-5-1 point basis. Eclipse Award winners are determined solely by first-place votes.
The NTRA, Daily Racing Form, and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced the three final Horse of the Year candidates, as well as finalists for the other 11 equine divisional awards and five human awards. The 2018 awards will be presented Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fl.
Accelerate, Justify, and Monomoy Girl are finalists for Horse of the Year. The Horse of the Year debate will continue until Jan. 24.
Off their spectacular seasons, Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) victor Accelerate and Triple Crown winner Justify, along with standout filly Monomoy Girl, were announced Jan. 5 as finalists for the 2018 Eclipse Awards’ biggest prize: Horse of the Year.
Accelerate swept Southern California’s four two-turn, Grade I dirt races for older horses: the Santa Anita Handicap , the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes, the TVG Pacific Classic, and Awesome Again Stakes. He followed that sweep with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Justify who became just the 13th horse to sweep the Triple Crown races. After becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) without a start as a juvenile, Justify followed with victories in the Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) stakes.
Monomoy Girl delivered a spectacular season, as she won the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), and defeated older mares in the fall in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), along with two other Grade I victories.
Those three are big favorites in their respective divisions. Accelerate is a finalist for older dirt male, with Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light and Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner Gun Runner .
Justify is a finalist for 3-year-old male, along with Catholic Boy, a Grade I winner on turf and dirt, and McKinzie, a two-time Grade I winner in 2018.
Monomoy Girl is a finalist for 3-year-old female with Cotillion Stakes (G1) winner Midnight Bisou and Rushing Fall, who won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes Presented by Lane’s End (G1T).
Undefeated Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Game Winner, Improbable and Knicks Go are the finalists for 2-year-old male.
The finalists in the 2-year-old filly division are: Jaywalk, Bellafina and Newspaperfortherecord.
The finalists for male turf horse are: the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GIT) winner Expert Eye, who started just once in North America; Sword Dancer Stakes (GIT) winner Glorious Empire, and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GIT) winner Stormy Liberal, who also is a finalist in the male sprinter division.
The finalists for male turf horse are: A Raving Beauty, Enable and Sistercharlie.
The full 2018 Eclipse Awards finalists (in alphabetical order) are:
Horse of the Year: Accelerate, Justify, Monomoy Girl
2-year-old male: Game Winner, Improbable, Knicks Go
2-year-old filly: Bellafina, Jaywalk, Newspaperofrecord
3-year-old male: Catholic Boy, Justify, McKinzie
3-year-old filly: Midnight Bisou, Monomoy Girl, Rushing Fall
Older dirt male: Accelerate, City of Light, Gun Runner
Older dirt female: Abel Tasman, Marley’s Freedom, Unique Bella
Male sprinter: Imperial Hint, Roy H, Stormy Liberal
Female sprinter: Finley’sluckycharm, Marley’s Freedom, Shamrock Rose
Male turf horse: Expert Eye; Glorious Empire, Stormy Liberal
Female turf horse: A Raving Beauty, Enable, Sistercharlie
Steeplechase horse: Jury Duty, Optimus Prime, Zanjabeel
Owner: Peter Brant; Hronis Racing LLC; WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners
Breeder: Mike Abraham, John D. Gunther, WinStar Farm, LLC
Trainer: Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Chad Brown
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr., Jose Ortiz, Mike Smith
Apprentice jockey: Reylu Gutierrez, Weston Hamilton, Edgar Morales
In addition to honoring the 17 winners in the horse and human categories, Joe Harper, CEO of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry. Chris Littlemore will receive the Eclipse Award as the 2018 Horseplayer of the Year. Members of the media will be honored for outstanding coverage in six categories.