It, of course, narrows down to the two horses, Accelerate and Justify. You often wonder if you put them head-to-head what would happen? My second thought on it is, how great of an accomplishment did each one of them have? What impact did each one of them have? When you talk about Horse of the Year you shouldn’t have to ever explain it. You’d like to have a clear-cut winner where you don’t have to explain to the lay person why the horse should be Horse of the Year.
I would vote for Justify. My opinion is that the difficulty of getting through the Triple Crown uninjured, beating the best horses, I think that’s still one of the greatest achievements there is in racing. The thing that makes it easier for an older horse is that you can pick your spots. If you can pick your spots, pick your races, pick your competition and manage your horses, that’s admirable, don’t get me wrong, but it makes things easier. With the Triple Crown, everything is already dictated for you. You can’t come out of the Derby and say, I think I’ll wait until the Travers because I need a little time. The Preakness comes up in two weeks and there you are again. The job that Bob Baffert did with that horse was extraordinary.
If they had ever met, the only place would have been in the Breeders’ Cup. The 3-year-olds have always showed up well in the Breeders’ Cup and by that late in the year the age difference is less of a factor. I think Justify would have prevailed over Accelerate. I will say this, it would have been a helluva race.
Wayne Lukas is not an Eclipse Award voter