Famed Justify goes back to routine training
As imposing as ever, Triple Crown champion Justify has been returned to light training by white-maned Bob Baffert.
After Baffert took the robust chestnut colt back to Churchill Downs in Louisville just a few days after charging through the last victorious race of the Triple Crown, the red-maned marvel was flown to Louisville.
On June 17, he was flown to Ontario International Airport in southern California, and whisked off to Santa Anita Race Course behind a four-vehicle police escort from the Arcadia Police Department.
Once back in his familiar environment, Justify showed his temperament and his pent-up energy by giving off unhidden signs he wanted to get back to work.
After returning from winning the Belmont Stakes, Justify had been lightly galloped a few times at Churchill Downs.
His health was good. No bruised heel like in the days after winning the Kentucky Derby. No lowered energy level. Just a need to get away from the cloistered ways of the shed rows and stable.
“You have to keep him going,” Baffert said to the hard-pressing media,
Baffert gave in to the powers-that-be at Santa Anita and let Justify be paraded in front of the grandstand between races on June 23.
Will Justify be aimed at the Haskell Stakes in New Jersey? A more intense itinerary of training will have to be quickly initiated if he is going to Monmouth Park in the Garden State. It’s only a matter of three weeks before that race is run near the close of this month.
If the Haskell is beyond reach, then how about the Travers Stakes at bucolic Saratoga Springs on the final Saturday of August?
Baffert will surely take dead aim at the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3, if he wants to run Justify before he is retired to a leisurely life to stud.
American Pharoah, Baffert’s Triple Crown champion in 2015, ran in and won the Haskell. He also ran in and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic that same year, before he was summarily retired to stud.
Justify is a celebrity. All of thoroughbred racing from Fingers Lakes Race Course to Woodbine in Toronto to Penn National in Grantsville, Pennsylvania want him to keep on racing because of the badly needed publicity the sport craves.
Any time Justify runs, the sport in general gets a jet-assisted boost, and the nation’s tracks gain some attention as well.
Justify has nothing to do with immigration . . . or North Korea . . . or possible Russian interference in national elections.
He’s squeaky clean. He is an equine hero of sorts.
Keep him going, while the subjects dealing with international politics and more parochial controversy bring only in-fighting and contempt from much of the divided public.