CRAWFORD | Justify returns to Churchill's dry land after Preakness
For the first time since his win in a sloppy Preakness Stakes, Triple Crown hopeful Justify returned to the racetrack in a morning gallop at Churchill Downs.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — With two legs of the Triple Crown, plus four days of rest and relaxation, successfully recorded, Justify eased back onto the track at Churchill Downs on a sunny, warm Thursday morning.
“He had a bounce in his step,” Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer to Bob Baffert, said after Justify’s leisurely gallop. “Very happy. Just took it easy with him out there, went about a mile and three-eighths. Bob said just give him a nice, easy first day back gallop, which we did, and he seemed to really enjoy it.”
There was none of the splashing he’s done in his past two races, including a sloppy track on the wettest Kentucky Derby day in history and another one after six days of rain at Pimlico, whose track not only was sloppy, but sealed for his Preakness Stakes victory.
“We know the horse does run in the mud well, but you ought to see him on a dry track,” Barnes said. “You guys haven’t seen him on a dry track. I’m waiting to see him on a dry track myself. But with mud, you never know what to expect. Sometimes races don’t pan out the way you think they will. But for him, it’s been stay clean, and he’s certainly done that.”
That was no trouble on Thursday morning. Barnes said Justify has held his weight after the two races two weeks, and doesn’t require a ton of extra attention to get him back into physical form before the Belmont.
Justify, in fact, appears to have borne up remarkably well considering that from the date of his first race, Feb. 18 of this year, to Preakness day on May 19, was 90 days.
During that time, Justify went a perfect 5-0, won the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and won three times over off tracks.
He’s also done it against a talented field of 3-year-olds, and even won the Preakness despite jumping tracks early in the race, apparently seeing something that distracted him where a bridge was laid across the track to allow spectators into the infield before the race. Jockey Mike Smith was a bit careful with him near the wire, even as others were making a late run at him.
Through all of that, Justify has maintained his racing weight, and, for want of a better phrase, the bounce in his step, even after some difficult races.
“It makes it very easy for us, to have a horse that’s capable of doing that,” Barnes said.. If a horse can’t manage that, Barnes added, “you want them to eat constantly. But this horse carries his weight very well, and that makes it very easy for me.”
Justify will maintain an easy workout regimen for the next few days. Trainer Bob Baffert will arrive back in Louisville on Sunday or Monday, Barnes said, with the colt expected to ship to New York on Wednesday of Belmont week.
“It’s just take one day at a time,” Barnes said. “Try not to think about it too much. Just think about the next day of training right now. I won’t think about Triple Crown until we actually do get to Belmont. My job is just to keep him healthy and sound, and get him up there healthy and happy.”
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.