Justify impresses in hard workout ahead of June 9 Belmont Stakes

If Justify is feeling any fatigue in the run-up to his Triple Crown bid, he did not show it Tuesday morning when he breezed a half mile in a brisk 46.8 seconds at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

The hard workout was Justify’s first since he won the Preakness on May 19, and he might breeze again early next week as he prepares for the June 9 Belmont Stakes.

Trainer Bob Baffert had flown in from California to observe the workout.

American Pharoah looked like that,” he said, referring to his 2015 Triple Crown winner. “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 also flew in one of his favorite riders, Martin Garcia, to handle the workout, though Mike Smith will be aboard Justify in the Belmont.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion could face as many as 10 horses in the 1 ½-mile endurance test as he attempts to become the 13th Triple Crown winner in history.

That field of challengers is led by returning Derby contenders Bravazo, Hofburg, Vino Rosso and Noble Indy and third-place Preakness finisher Tenfold. The post-position draw will be held next Tuesday at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

Baffert returned to California a contented man on Tuesday afternoon but plans to rejoin his superstar in Kentucky this weekend.

“I’m really happy,” he said after the breeze. “It’s what you want to see. I knew yesterday the way he galloped he was ready to do something.”

childs.walker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ChildsWalker

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
52°