– Twelve of the most memorable, significant and reflective events from the last 12 months of Thoroughbred racing are up for the 2018 NTRA Moment of the Year, a distinction determined by fan voting and recognized at The Eclipse Awards. Voting is now open on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) website, NTRA.com, and via Twitter, where every retweet or use of the official hashtag for the moments as presented on the @NTRA account will be counted as one vote.
To vote on the NTRA website, go to https://www.ntra.com/eclipse-awards/2018-moment-of-the-year.
The NTRA Moment of the Year will be revealed during the 48th Annual Eclipse Awards, set for January 24 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The eligible 2018 moments were selected to illustrate the wide range of human emotions and achievements, as well as outstanding displays of athleticism. Events that fans can choose from are listed chronologically as follows, along with the designated hashtag that can be used to vote:
- #GunRunnerPegasus – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farm’s reigning Horse of the Year, Gun Runner, closes career with emphatic win over 2017 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old colt West Coast in the $16.3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Candy Ride, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux, retires with earnings of $15,988,500, second only to Arrogate on the all-time earnings list. (January 27)
- #SportsBettingLegal – The U.S. Supreme Court rules the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. States are now free to regulate sports betting as they choose. This historic ruling creates challenges and opportunities for the horse racing industry in the U.S. (May 14)
- #JustifyTC – Justify becomes the 13th Triple Crown winner, and only the second to do so while remaining undefeated, in a dominant Belmont Stakes performance. Along the way, the Bob Baffert-trained colt also overcomes the “Curse of Apollo” by becoming just the second horse to win the Kentucky Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old (Apollo was the first in 1882) and emerges from the dense fog in a surreal Preakness Stakes victory. (June 9)
- #MonmouthSportsBook – Monmouth Park opens its Sports Book by William Hill, becoming the first racetrack to offer sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled PASPA unconstitutional. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy makes this move possible when he signs legislation to allow sports betting in the state. Governor Murphy places the first sports bet in the new Sports Book. (June 14)
- #DiversifyWhitney – Co-owned by Ralph Evans and his daughter Lauren, Diversify wins a long-delayed and muddy renewal of the Whitney Stakes in front-running fashion for late trainer Rick Violette and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. The 5-year-old New York-bred son of Bellamy Road records his second Grade 1 win and defeats Mind Your Biscuits by 3 ½ lengths on a sloppy main track. Heavy lightening and an untimely deluge leads to a 41-minute delay that leaves horses circling the paddock and fans seeking shelter. Diversify’s win is the last in a graded stakes for Violette, who dies on October 21 at his home in Del Ray Beach, Florida. (August 4)
- #RIPCot – W. Cothran “Cot” Campbell, a pioneer in shared racehorse ownership and founder of Dogwood Stables, dies at 91 in his Aiken, South Carolina home. Campbell, a Navy veteran and founder of one of the South’s leading advertising agencies in the 1960s, formed his first ownership syndicate in 1969 and eventually established a formal partnership entity named Dogwood Stable that campaigned classic winners Summer Squall (1990 Preakness Stakes) and Palace Malice (2013 Belmont Stakes). The National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame inducted Campbell as one of its Pillars of the Turf in August 2018. (October 27)
- #GameWinnerBC – Game Winner remains undefeated with a powerful stretch run in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for owners Gary and Mary West. The Kentucky-bred son of Candy Ride gives trainer Bob Baffert his fourth Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and helps jockey Joel Rosario reach a total of three winning mounts in Breeders’ Cup races over the 2-day event. (November 2)
- #MonomoyGirlBC – Three-year-old filly Monomoy Girl captures the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff for owners Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables and trainer Brad Cox. The locally based Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapizar collects her fifth Grade 1 of the year with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. (November 3)
- #EnableBC – Enable ships across the Atlantic to take the Longines Breeders Cup Turf for owner Juddmonte Farms and trainer John Gosden. Jockey Frankie Dettori is aboard the 4-year-old Great Britain-bred daughter of Nathaniel for the dramatic, middle-of-the-track stretch run to edge Magical, the only other filly in the race of 13. Enable became the first horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the same year (November 3)
- #AccelerateBC – Accelerate captures his fifth Grade 1 win of 2018 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs for owner Hronis Racing. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Lookin At Lucky, under jockey Joel Rosario, breaks from the outside post in the 14-horse field and gives trainer John Sadler his first Breeders’ Cup win in 30 years of attempts. (November 3)
- #StevensRetires – Hall of Fame and Eclipse Award-winning jockey Gary Stevens, a winner of 5,187 races, retires after a nearly 40-year career. Stevens won nine Triple Crown races (three of each leg) and 11 Breeders’ Cup races. His notable mounts included Beholder (Breeders’ Cup Distaff twice, Pacific Classic), Silver Charm (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Dubai World Cup) and Winning Colors (Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita Derby). Stevens also achieved acclaim as a big screen actor for his role as jockey George Woolf in Seabiscuit. (November 20)
- #JohnnyV6k – Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez records his 6,000th North American victory to become the 18th rider to achieve that milestone. The 47-year-old native of Puerto Rico is the highest-earning jockey in history with earnings of more than $390 million. His Triple Crown wins aboard Animal Kingdom (2011 Kentucky Derby), Always Dreaming (2017 Kentucky Derby), Rags to Riches (2007 Belmont Stakes) and Union Rags (2012 Belmont Stakes) and 15 Breeders’ Cup wins highlight Velazquez’s 28-year career. (November 30)
Fans are permitted to vote for multiple moments but there is a limit of one vote per moment for each Twitter account. Subsequent votes from an account will be disqualified. Votes must be submitted by January 16 at 11:59 p.m. (ET).
Past Moments of the Year
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes.
Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was a historic victory by the filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. For 2012, the recovery of Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story. In 2013, fans recognized Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for his popular connections. The 2014 award went to California Chrome’s dominant win in Kentucky Derby 140. In 2015 there was a landslide vote in favor of American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown-clinching Belmont Stakes win. In 2016, California Chrome was again part of the winning moment – a dramatic Dubai World Cup victory that came as Victor Espinoza’s saddle slipped out from underneath him. Last year, the tragic fire at San Luis Rey and the industry’s response led the way among the votes cast.
Eclipse Awards tickets are available for $425 each or $4,000 for a table of 10. Blocks of rooms have been reserved for Eclipse Awards guests at the JW Marriott Turnberry Miami. Additional details can be found on the NTRA website at NTRA.com/eclipse-awards.
About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance; NTRA.com; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).