CRAWFORD | Triple Crown winner Justify retired
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Justify, who became just the second unbeaten colt to win the Triple Crown and the first to accomplish the feat after being unraced at age 2, will not race again.
WinStar Farm, the colt's co-owner, issued a release today confirming the move. Justify had been pulled from training in June after developing swelling in an ankle. He had made the move to Del Mar Race Track in California with trainer Bob Baffert, but won't be able to return to training to get in shape for fall races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic, to be held at Churchill Downs in early November.
“Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” Baffert said. “We all wanted to see Justify run again, but ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60-90 days, I can't be definite.”
Justify, owned by a partnership of WinStar, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and China Horse Club, won $3.798 million and finishes his career unbeaten at 6-for-6. Before winning the Triple Crown, multiple reports had Justify's breeding rights going to Coolmore for more than $75 million, but those reports haven't been confirmed and WinStar president Elliot Walden says that still hasn't been completed.
"To win the Triple Crown is an amazing accomplishment,” said China Horse Club’s Teo Ah Khing. “The history of the Triple Crown and the difficulty of winning the three legs is not something I take lightly. It has been a great ride for all of us, and I have complete confidence Bob is doing the right thing by Justify.”
Walden said that WinStar will open its doors for visitors to meet Justify at a later date. The colt also will parade at Del Mar this Saturday.
“Like American Pharoah, we can’t take the risk of running Justify as a four-year-old," Walden said. "We all wanted him to finish his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it was not meant to be. . . . We are excited to share him with our fans starting the middle of August after he gets acclimated.”
Jockey Mike Smith said he had been looking forward to another race or two aboard Justify, but said he felt lucky to have ridden him.
“Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won't run again, but I am thankful he came into my life,” Smith said. “There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat. There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him. He truly is a gift from God.”
The news obviously is not good for the Breeders' Cup, set to return to Churchill Downs this fall. Still, event officials released a supportive statement (after all, breeding is their business): "While all of us at the Breeders’ Cup were looking forward to the possibility of Justify competing in the Classic we have nothing but respect for the decision to retire him rather than risk serious injury. It was a great thrill to watch his pursuit of the Triple Crown and we congratulate the connections on their stewardship of a great athlete. We look forward to his offspring competing in future Breeders’ Cup World Championships."
Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.