CRAWFORD | Baffert says Justify 'still on go' after gallop at Ch - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Baffert says Justify 'still on go' after gallop at Churchill

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Justify gallops under the Twin Spires on Monday morning at Churchill Downs. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Justify gallops under the Twin Spires on Monday morning at Churchill Downs. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)
Justify heads off the track after galloping at Churchill Downs (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Justify heads off the track after galloping at Churchill Downs (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)
Kentucky Derby winner Justify soaks it all in after galloping at Churchill Downs. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Kentucky Derby winner Justify soaks it all in after galloping at Churchill Downs. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky Derby winner Justify was back on the Churchill Downs track under the watchful eye of trainer Bob Baffert for the first time since winning the roses on May 5, and Baffert came off the track saying it looks like nothing has changed.

“I just loved the way he went around there,” Baffert said. “He looks no different from what he did before the Kentucky Derby. We’re pretty happy where we are right now. He looks healthy, didn’t lose an ounce of weight, which was very important. . . . I just let him gallop and try to find the softer spot. It sounds hard out there, since I’ve been here. Just let him stretch his legs.”

There had been a bit of concern in the days after the Derby when the Scat Daddy colt had shown discomfort while Baffert was walking him around in the gravel for reporters outside his Barn No. 33. Baffert on Monday called that “the famous walk-out,” and said the foot issues the colt experienced were routine, and not even enough cause for concern to keep him from returning to California last Sunday.

“The next day when I brought him out he was so bright and full of energy, I was really impressed. Usually, all my Derby winners, it takes them about five days to really snap out of it. But he was pretty sharp the whole time. . . . Anytime you run horses on a wet track, it’s very abrasive. When I walked across it, I think they were just getting all the way to the bottom of it, so it burns their heels, so that’s when the bruised feet come out. . . . So we jumped on it right away.  . . . We three-quartered the shoe to relieve the pressure. Now we put a full shoe on him with equilox for support. And out there, he looks good. We deal with these issues constantly.”

Baffert doesn’t deal with colts like this one all the time, however. He said he is encouraged by the colt’s physical appearance a week after his Derby experience, and he liked the way he responded on the track.

“You can tell just by their eyes, their body language, that he’s enjoying it out there,” Baffert said. “He wanted to go faster than the rider wanted to let him. To me, that just tells me that he’s still on ‘go.’”

Baffert said Justify will return to the Churchill Downs track on Tuesday. He was undecided about whether he’d be on the track Wednesday. He’s scheduled to fly to Baltimore that morning, and Baffert said he’d play it by ear. In any event, the Derby winner will be on the track at Pimlico both Thursday and Friday morning.

Baffert will be seeking his record-tying seventh victory in the Preakness Stakes, where all four of his previous Kentucky Derby winners have won. He said he hasn’t varied his two-week routine much over the years, though he’ll tweak it here and there depending on the horse.

Regardless, he thinks he has a fresh horse coming out of the Derby.

“In order do what (Justify) did (winning the Derby off three career starts), I ran him into shape,” Baffert said. “In 75 days, he did all that, and he’s still this big, massive horse, who is light on his feet, and he can take a lot. He’s shown how tough he is, to do what he did in such a short period of time is pretty remarkable, especially beating the field that he did, and going as fast as he did. Now we’re shortening up (in the Preakness), so that’s a big plus.”

Justify is expected to face seven challengers in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic is in, his trainer, Chad Brown, said Sunday. Bolt d’Oro, 12th in the Kentucky Derby after finishing runner-up to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby, will pass on the Preakness, according to his owner and trainer, Mick Ruis.

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