American triple crown hero Justify, Accelerate and the exceptional 3yo filly Monomoy Girl are bound to divide opinion in what is expected to be a keen duel when panelists debate which of the three is to be adjudged ‘Horse of the Year’ at the 2018 Eclipse Awards. The trio were announced as finalists in the most prestigious award category which will be held on 25 January at Gulfstream Park. Accelerate, whose owners Hronis Racing comprising Kosta and Pete Hronis, won six of his seven outings in 2018, including a wide trip success in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Justify’s rise to glory in 2018 was nothing short of sensational, going from a February maiden score to become the second Bob Baffert-trained runner in four years to win the Triple Crown in the remarkable space of less than four months.
He was retired unbeaten after five starts in July. But for a controversial disqualification in the Grade 1 Cotillion S, Monomoy Girl would have amassed a perfect record in 2018, with marquee victories in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes and Grade 1 CCA Oaks ahead of a brave success in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. All three are also well positioned to be named unanimous champions in their individual divisions. Among the most noteworthy omissions among finalists were Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables, which won five Grade One events in 2018 with as many horses, 38 races overall and nearly $3.6 million in purse money; and jockey Joel Rosario, who rode three Breeders’ Cup winners, including Accelerate. Of the 271 eligible voters representing the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and Daily Racing Form, 249 cast ballots.