Justify’s unknown racing future has shifted to uncertain, at least for a little while. The Triple Crown winner has been pulled from training to be evaluated for a filling in his left front ankle.
“Justify had some filling in his left front ankle a week ago, which subsided in a couple days,” trainer Bob Baffert said in a statement. “I trained him last week and the filling came back. We want to get him checked out.”
Justify’s next race has been the cause for much speculation in the industry. When Baffert won the Triple Crown with American Pharoah in 2015, the colt raced in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He finished his career with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
It was speculated that the same path could be in store for Justify, but Baffert and the ownership group have been unusually silent on his racing future. Justify had been training at Santa Anita until last week when the hoof problem occurred.
This setback almost assuredly takes him out of the Haskell, set to be run on July 29. The Travers is Aug. 25. Another long shot possibility, because he would have to run against older, more experienced horses, would be the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 18.
“He is too special to the owners, our team and all the fans he has around the world to not be 100% healthy,” said Elliott Walden, the managing partner in Justify’s ownership group. “As far as any future plans for him, they will be decided after we get him checked out.”
Justify is expected to retire at the end of this racing season or after the Pegasus at Gulfstream Park in Florida in January.