Own­ers: Triple Crown win­ner Jus­tify will race again dur­ing this year

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports -

NEW YORK (AP) — Triple Crown win­ner Jus­tify will get a well-de­served break and then race again this year, al­though no date or lo­ca­tion has been tar­geted yet after the colt came out of his Bel­mont Stakes vic­tory in good con­di­tion.

El­liott Walden of WinS­tar Farm said Sun­day the multi-owner group that con­trols Jus­tify wants to share the horse with the pub­lic by rac­ing him. A plan will be for­mu­lated once the chest­nut colt re­cov­ers from a com­pressed sched­ule that saw him win six races over 111 days since his de­but on Feb. 18.

“Our fo­cus was on each race as they came up,” Walden said after un­veil­ing Jus­tify’s Triple Crown ban­ner in­side Bel­mont Park. “Now we can take a deep breath and just see how the horse is.”

Jus­tify is set to re­turn to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ken­tucky, on Mon­day.

Next Satur­day, Jus­tify’s own­ers along with trainer Bob Baf­fert and jockey Mike Smith will re­ceive their en­graved Ken­tucky Derby tro­phies at Churchill. It’s pos­si­ble Jus­tify could be pa­raded at the track like Amer­i­can Pharoah after he won the Triple Crown for Baf­fert in 2015.

“To­day he looked fan­tas­tic,” Baf­fert said. “After a week, it starts catch­ing up with them.”

On June 17, Jus­tify will travel to Baf­fert’s base in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to await his next move.

Among the pos­si­bil­i­ties: the $1 mil­lion Haskell In­vi­ta­tional on July 29 at New Jer­sey’s Mon­mouth Park, the $1 mil­lion Pa­cific Clas­sic at Del Mar on Aug. 18 and the $1.25 mil­lion Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 25.

Baf­fert can ex­pect to hear from of­fi­cials at sev­eral tracks ea­ger to lure rac­ing’s new­est su­per­star, much like he did with Amer­i­can Pharaoh.

Chris Kay, pres­i­dent of the New York Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, joked that he would “hold Bode hostage un­til they make the de­ci­sion,” re­fer­ring to Baf­fert’s 13-year-old son.

“We hope this en­tire group will be as­sem­bled again in late Au­gust in Saratoga,” Kay said.

Baf­fert took Amer­i­can Pharoah to Saratoga in Au­gust 2015 and the Triple Crown win­ner was upset by Keen Ice in the Travers.

“Ev­ery­body thinks I’m so op­posed to Saratoga,” he said. “I’m not. I’ve had re­ally good luck there.”

The sea­son-end­ing Breed­ers’ Cup world cham­pi­onships are in Louisville on Nov. 2-3.

“It’s been the long­est, quick­est jour­ney,” a hoarse-sound­ing Baf­fert said as light rain fell out­side Jus­tify’s barn. “We were in the of­fice watch­ing the re­play over and over. He’s just an un­be­liev­able horse. We’re just so proud of him. We thought he was that kind of horse but they have to prove it.”

Jus­tify won the Bel­mont on Satur­day by 1¾ lengths over 24-1 shot Gronkowski after win­ning the Ken­tucky Derby by 2½ lengths and the Preak­ness by a half-length. Jus­tify be­came the first colt in 136 years to win the Derby after not rac­ing as a 2-year-old.

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