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Triple Crown Winner Justify Officially Retired

Melanie Martines

Undefeated 2018 Triple Crown Winner Justify has been retired from racing and will begin his second career at Coolmore Stud after being paraded at Del Mar this coming Saturday, July 28.

“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.”

Since the window to get Justify to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in good order was closing, the prudent thing to to was to retire him. It became clear with each passing day that this announcement would be coming soon.

“He is an incredible horse and we are very disappointed he can’t run again,” said WinStar Farm’s 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 When he won the Preakness, I allowed myself to start dreaming about the Triple Crown. When we look back on this, we have been a part of an undefeated Triple Crown Champion, and hopefully a Horse of the Year.”

The narrative of how we define Justify’s incredible career will be an interesting debate as time passes. He accomplished things that nobody thought could be done, but his race career only lasted four months. His jockey, Mike Smith, believes he was one of the all-time greats.

“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 became the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby while not running at the age of 2. At the time, this was something that seemed impossible, but Justify made it look easy despite setting extremely fast fractions early on in the race. To not only win the Kentucky Derby, but the entire Triple Crown, with the odds stacked against him is truly significant.

“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.”

The big chestnut horse will stand at Coolmore Stud in Kentucky, where he will join fellow Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. A deal has been in place for quite some time for the horse to go to Coolmore, though it has not been finalized. As for his racing career, poor timing led to the decision to retire him.

“The timing is bad for another start in 2018, and therefore, we have to retire him,” said WinStar Farm’s Elliott Walden. “Like American Pharoah, we can’t take the risk of running Justify as a 4-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.”

Before shipping to Kentucky, fans will have one last opportunity to see the Triple Crown winner on Saturday, July 28, at Del Mar. Justify will be paraded for the fans during the card, which also features the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes.

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

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