Justify off the mark as Tahoma powers to success at Santa Anita
The colt was a $160,000 purchase from the Keeneland September Sale
Displaying the power of his Triple Crown-winning sire, Tahoma, Justify's first foal to race in the United States, who won on his debut in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita.
Trained by Doug O'Neill, the two-year-old colt broke smoothly under Juan Hernandez and cruised into fourth on the outside of the field, running a length off the pace.
Tahoma, the 4-5 favourite, surged forward at the quarter pole to challenge Flame Rider, then held the lead easily in the stretch to cross the wire first ahead of Salta and Eagles Landing in a time of :53.89 for West Coast Stables.
Longtime O'Neill assistant Leandro Mora said, "We had high expectations and we feel this colt has a lot of upside. This colt has a lot of ability and I feel really confident about his future. We're proud to win with the very first starter [in America] for Justify, very proud."
Tahoma was a $160,000 purchase from the Hunter Valley Farm consignment at the 2021 Keeneland September Sale by Dennis O'Neill.
"Dennis [Doug's brother] bought this horse and he has the eye of an eagle. He provides us with so many nice horses. Doug is on his way back from Maryland, but he's on his phone and he knows we won," Mora said.
Although Tahoma represents Justify's first starter on American soil, the J.A. Stack trainee Aspen Grove also ran on Sunday, placing fifth in the Tally Ho Stud European Breeders' Fund Fillies, a maiden race at the Curragh.
Bred in Kentucky by Hunter Valley Farm, Fergus Galvin, and Golden Vale Farm, Tahoma is out of the Rahy mare Madera Dancer, who has five winners out of six foals to race. The mare also produced Legends of War , who won the Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes. She was barren for the 2021 season and has a Nyquist colt foal.
Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther, out of the Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic, Justify, a seven-year-old son of Scat Daddy, won the Triple Crown in 2018 to cap a six-for-six career with earnings of $3,798,000.
He stands the 2022 season at Ashford Stud in Kentucky for an advertised fee of $100,000.
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