Justify joins 12 others as Triple Crown colossus
There was Secretariat. Affirmed did it. Seattle Slew won all three races of the Triple Crown series. American Pharoah broke the silence of 37 years of hushed voices and muffled emotions in 2015.
And now it’s Justify, a photogenic, chestnut dynamo who didn’t even race as a two-year-old, receiving the thanks from thoroughbred racing and adoration from the general public for winning the Triple Crown.
A thoroughbred with no flaws, no scandal, no me-first shenanigans to be run with by all the media, no shadowy past to be hidden from view.
Justify can be acclaimed and praised for what he is – a thoroughbred whose brilliance and talent can make people see the positives in their heroes.
Secretariat and owner Penny Tweedy were the things of a feel-good story. Justify and his four-month leap from unknown thoroughbred to the pinnacle of horse racing is their equal, story-wise.
He raced only three times before the Kentucky Derby. No thoroughbred had won the Derby since the late 1800s without racing as a two-year-old. In Baltimore, he oozed through the slop and water to take the Preakness Stakes as fog engulfed much of the track. Then, in New York state, he pushed his way into the same sentences reserved for Citation, Sir Barton and Whirlaway – other Triple Crown champions.
Justify’s training took place in California. It was the site of his first victories, beginning Feb. 18.
His notoriety came so quickly, it reminded some of The Beatles or Elvis Presley.
Unknown. Finding followers and recognition in a matter of months. Being given the spotlight by the headline-chasing media. And then keeping the limelight – not with music and No. 1 albums, but with an all-winning record that included all the Triple Crown races.
What will Justify do next?
Rest. Rest. And more rest. If he races again, it won’t be until deep into the summer.
If he races again.
Saratoga in New York is steeped in history and has the Travers Stakes in late August. His breeding rights could be sold for $20 million. His many co-owners won’t chance running again if any minor injury occurs along the way to another possible race.
Would he be primed for the Breeder’s Cup Classic or another race on the Breeder’s Cup card that takes place the first days in November at Churchill Downs in Louisville?
The ownership will look at Horse of the Year possibilities. He will certainly be the three-year-old champion.
Justify is the toast of the sports world, deservedly so.
Justify just might be placed on the cover of periodicals like Secretariat was, and Justify didn’t lose five times in his career the way Secretariat did.