Foot problem keeps Justify away from races, training
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Will Justify, the Triple Crown-winning red headline-maker, get back to racing any time soon?
He won’t be in the Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Sunday.
An injury, first seen about a month ago, has kept him out of training, and meant his return to racing after winning the Belmont Stakes will have to wait.
Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, first reported “a filling in his left front ankle” and removed the unbeaten colt from training altogether.
After about a week, Baffert reported the swelling had subsided, but didn’t offer any timetable about when Justify might begin training anew or what future race Baffert had in mind for the strapping chestnut three-year-old.
It wasn’t long before the white-maned trainer was back in the sport’s headlines with another report on Justify’s health.
The ankle “filling” had returned, and WinStar Farm and the minority owners of Justify would wait “two to three weeks” before the next evaluation.
That two to three weeks has gone by, and some news should be forthcoming very soon.
With the Haskell Invitational Stakes no longer a possibility, most intent followers of thoroughbred racing thought the ballyhooed Travers Stakes at historic Saratoga Race Course on the last Saturday in August might be an appropriate place for Justify’s return.
The possibility of the Travers Stakes is now moving toward being erased. Justify would surely need at least three weeks minimum to get in the required training regimen for such a task.
Baffert moved Justify from Santa Anita, where he had been flown a week after the Belmont Stakes, to Del Mar just north of San Diego, to be stabled before any return to the races or, even, training.
Justify has won all six of his races this year, after never racing as a two-year-old.
He brought a quickly evaporating surge in interest to thoroughbred racing, as he won the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, then the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore two weeks later and finally the grueling Belmont Stakes on the second Saturday in June.
Without Justify’s continuing headlines, thoroughbred racing has returned to the inside pages of daily newspapers and left the mainstream of most people’s thoughts concerning sports.
WinStar and Baffert could continue to look ahead to the Breeder’s Cup Classic on the first weekend in November, as their ultimate goal for Justify.
Right now, there is no recent news, and no scheduled racing for the best horse to happen to thoroughbred racing this year.