Trainer Bob Baffert has moved Triple Crown winner Justify to his barn at the Del Mar race track while he recovers and deals with ankle swelling, furthering speculation that the horse’s racing days may be over.
After WinStar Farm sold the breeding rights to Coolmore Farm for $75 million, many knew the business aspect of the horse racing industry was likely to make sure we didn’t see Justify continue to build on his improbable rise to immortality.
“Right now, we’re just looking to get him 100 percent,” Baffert told the San Diego Union Tribune. “He’s so valuable as a stallion. We don’t want him to get hurt. We’ll know more in a couple of weeks. Right now, he’s day to day.”
After not racing as a two year old, Justify broke his maiden in mid-February and then went on to became an undefeated Triple Crown winner with just six total races in less than four months. Racing fans had hoped he could at least race the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November, a chance to become the second Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing. However, Justify has already been ruled out of racing in August at the Pacific Classic as well as the Travers at Saratoga, not leaving much time for a prep race.
According to a source close to Dirtfork, WinStar Farm President Elliot Walden believes he’s done racing but there are some folks (believed to be China Club) that wants him to continue racing.
With the purse of the Breeders’ Cup Classic only being $6 million, it’s understandable that it doesn’t outweigh the fear of risking an injury and the $75 million breeding rights that are in the picture. That’s a lot of money.
But if Justify is healthy and if there’s a chance that he can race, given Baffert’s competitive spirit, one could expect him to push for it. But that decision remains with the chestnut colt’s owners.
In 2015, when American Pharoah finally became “the one” to break the 37-year old drought by winning the Triple Crown, Baffert kept racing him when many suggested there was no point.
Again, Coolmore purchased his breeding rights (far less than what they paid for Justify) but American Pharoah raced in the Haskell Invitation, the Travers Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Pharoah won the Haskell but finished second at the Travers to the shock of many. But he was able to bounce back and easily won the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, giving the fans one final goodbye at this majestic horse before retiring to stud.
Just like Pharoah, Justify will forever be immortal and given how beloved he is by racing fans all over the world, it would be truly special to share him with the public just one more time so they witness greatness.