The short answer is: not Justify. While the whole racing world is hypnotized by the Triple Crown, if you look at his three performances, the speed figures he earned in each of the races would not have been good enough to win any of those races in even an average year. Just as was the case with American Pharoah, had he had a full season and gotten a chance to run against older horses and prove himself, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he turned out to be another American Pharoah. But he didn’t do it and never had a chance to step out of the 3-year-old ranks. I think that 10 years from now we’re going to look back on the Triple Crown and say that winning it is not that extraordinary. We had a long period where there was just one photo finish after another that beat worthy horses. To me, winning the Breeders Cup Classic and other Grade I’s against older horses is what makes you a great horse. I’ll vote for Accelerate. Figure-wise, I was disappointed by the way he ended his year. He sort of won by default. His Breeders’ Cup Classic was weak. But he has run figures of 115, 111, 110 during the course of the year. Justify’s three figures in the Triple Crown races were 103, 97, 101. Justify had an ambitious campaign. He won the races he had to win. He was no Arrogate, but he certainly had what I would call a respectable Horse of the Year campaign.
Beyer is an Eclipse Award voter