Unbeaten Triple Crown winner Justify retired after injury

Justify wins the Belmont Stakes and completes the Triple Crown
Justify wins the Belmont Stakes and completes the Triple CrownCredit: Al Bello

Justify, the undefeated winner of the 2018 Triple Crown, has been retired from racing, according to a press release distributed by his connections on Wednesday.

"Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign," said trainer Bob Baffert. "We all wanted to see Justify run again, but ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60-90 days, I can't be definite."

Justify dazzled at first asking on February 18 at Santa Anita Park and proceeded to accomplish many historical feats en route to stardom.

Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing, he won the Kentucky Derby on May 5, when he became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old.

"He is an incredible horse and we are very disappointed he can't run again," said WinStar Farm owner Kenny Troutt. "All things happen for a reason, and we are blessed to have raced him to be the 13th Triple Crown winner in history."

Justify went on to capture the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico under the foggiest conditions the race has ever seen. He was pressured every step of the way and fended off all challengers for an all-the-way victory.

"When he won the Preakness, I allowed myself to start dreaming about the Triple Crown," Troutt said. "When we look back on this, we have been a part of an undefeated Triple Crown champion, and hopefully a Horse of the Year."

Justify went to New York in pursuit of history in the Belmont Stakes. Sent to the lead by Mike Smith, Justify never looked back and won the Belmont in good style to become the first undefeated Triple Crown winner since Seattle Slew.

"Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won't run again, but I am thankful he came into my life," Smith said. "There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat. There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him. He truly is a gift from God."

Justify provided racing international exposure through the Triple Crown, winning the Belmont Stakes in China Horse Club's red and yellow colors after taking the Derby and Preakness in WinStar's silks.

"To win the Triple Crown is an amazing accomplishment," said China Horse Club's Teo Ah Khing. "The history of the Triple Crown and the difficulty of winning the three legs is not something I take lightly. It has been a great ride for all of us, and I have complete confidence Bob is doing the right thing by Justify."

Justify will return to WinStar Farm early next month. He won all six of his starts, amassing earnings of $3,798,000. In addition to his classic wins, Justify also won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther, the son of Scat Daddy was purchased by China Horse Club and Maverick Racing, a WinStar entity, for $500,000 out of the Glennwood Farm consignment at the 2016 Keeneland September sale.

"The timing is bad for another start in 2018, and therefore, we have to retire him," said WinStar Farm president Elliott Walden. "Like American Pharoah, we can't take the risk of running Justify as a four-year-old. We all wanted him to finish his career in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but it was not meant to be. As has been reported, there is a possible sale to Coolmore in place, but that won't be finalized until a later date. We are excited to share him with our fans starting the middle of August after he gets acclimated."

Justify will parade at Del Mar July 28 before traveling to WinStar.

"The parade at Del Mar will be a great opportunity for the fans in the San Diego area to come out and see him," Baffert said.

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BloodHorse staff
Published on 16 December 2020Last updated 13:38, 16 December 2020