Justify isn’t ready to join Seattle Slew as the only Triple Crown winners to leave horse racing with a perfect record.
The plan is to have the now-famous colt race through the end of 2018.
Justify became the 13th winner of the Triple Crown with Sunday’s victory in the Belmont Stakes. He has a 6-0 record and the horse’s ownership has decided he will compete in more races, which would likely include a race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“We’re looking forward to sharing him (with the public) more,” said Elliott Walden, the CEO and racing manager for WinStar Farm, which owns a majority share of the horse. “He’s now become a household name, and I’m looking forward to his next race just as much as you guys are.”
Making the move to continue racing comes amid reports that there is a $75 million breeding rights agreement in place for Justify’s stud rights. WinStar hasn’t confirmed the reports.
Trainer Bob Baffert isn’t ready to discuss a plan. He wants to assess the horse’s condition before figuring out how to proceed, similar to what he did after American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015.
“Usually about a week later you can see how much of a toll it’s taken on him,” Baffert told reporters. “We’ll sit down and figure out a little game plan after that, but (right now) we have nothing at all.”
Walden agrees with Baffert’s approach and plans to let the situation play out.
“Our focus on was on each race as it came up, and now we can take a deep breath and just see how the horse is,” Walden said. “The great thing about being with Bob and having him as a trainer is he knows when the horses are right. He’s so in tune with his horses, and he’s not going to bring horses up here unless they’re right.
“He’ll get Justify right and then we’ll make a plan, but nothing has been decided yet. We’ve just been focused on the Triple Crown.”
Three years ago, Baffert kept American Pharoah out of competition nearly two months before the horse won the Haskell Invitational. Then came a stunning loss at The Travers Stakes in Saratoga before American Pharoah bounced back to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his final race.
The Haskell and Travers would likely be in play for Justify as well. Or Baffert, who will have Justify based in Southern California for most of the next few months, could enter him in the Aug. 18 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
The Pacific Classic is one week before The Travers so running in both races isn’t an option.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby.
Justify won Saturday’s Belmont Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Gronkowski.
–Field Level Media