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LOUISVILLE, KY – Undefeated Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Justify looks like he could run today in the Grade 1, $1,500,000 Belmont Stakes with a sizzling half-mile breeze in :46.80 Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs in a light rain.
With jockey Martin Garcia aboard, Justify ran splits of :12, :23.60 and :35.20 before galloping out five furlongs in :59.60 over the “fast” main track, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“He worked really well,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said who was on hand for the work. “The trackman (Jamie Richardson) did a great job with the track this morning with some impeding rain. Martin knows how to breeze the horse so I flew him in from California. (Justify) warmed up really nice. I basically didn’t say anything on the radio to Martin after I asked him how he was warming up. He went in a nice grove.
“We let him gallop out a little further past the five-eighths pole, he took a big breath and turned around to go back to the barn. I’m really happy. It’s what you want to see. I knew yesterday the way he galloped he was ready to do something. The day before he didn’t get to do much with the rain and he may not get to do much this week because of (possible) rain as well.
“American Pharoah looked like that. That’s what you want to see with another week to go before the Belmont. He looked really good and in great shape. He’s moving forward and held his weight for being a massive horse. I went to see Pharoah yesterday. He got really big and I was really emotional when I was there. I asked him if it was okay if another horse broke his record and he didn’t seem to have a problem with it.”
Baffert is scheduled to return to his California home later today but will return to Churchill Downs later this week before Justify’s final breeze in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.
“I’ll head back to California today and come back either late Saturday or Sunday and possibly breeze on Monday before we leave for New York Wednesday (June 6).”
Also stabled in Baffert’s Barn 33 at Churchill Downs is Belmont probable Restoring Hope, who breezed seven furlongs from the five-furlong pole in 1:26 with jockey Florent Geroux aboard.
The Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial third-place finisher worked through splits of :13.20, :25.60, :37.40, 1:01.80 and 1:13.80 before completing a one-mile gallop out in 1:40.20, according to Nichols.
“I thought he worked really well,” Baffert said. “He’s a really competitive horse and is honest on the track. We were disappointed how he ran in the (May 5) Pat Day Mile but I don’t think he liked the sloppy track.”
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