By Horse Journals Media
The Thoroughbred racehorse who became the 13th Triple Crown winner in 2018 has been officially retired from racing. The three-year-old colt had been in light training to allow him time to recover after the grueling Triple Crown campaign, but in early July his trainer, Bob Baffert, noticed a slight filling in the horse’s left front fetlock. When the swelling returned a few days later the leg was evaluated, and the decision was made to retire him from racing on July 25, 2018.
“Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” said trainer Bob Baffert in a press release. “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 was bred by WinStar Farm, and purchased as a yearling for $500,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. “He was a beautiful yearling – had great balance and leg, great shoulder, and lovely length and neck, and power. For a big horse, he was very light on his feet, with good action and good energy,” says David Hanley, general manager of WinStar.
Foaled March 28, 2015, Justify grew to be a large horse at 16.3 hands and weighing 1380 pounds. Unlike most Thoroughbreds, he did not race as a two-year-old, and is the first horse to have won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882. His first start was in February 2018 when he won at Santa Anita Park in California by 9 1/2 lengths. He won his next five races, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, and retired undefeated with $3.8 million in earnings.
Justify wins the Preakness Stakes in the fog on a sloppy track. Photo: Wikimedia/Maryland GovPics
The winner’s circle celebration after Justify’s Preakness win. Photo: Wikimedia/Maryland GovPics
Justify is sired by Scat Daddy, and his dam was Stage Magic. He is inbred to Mr. Prospector, who appears once in the third generation of the pedigree and twice in the fifth-generation as the sire of full sisters Yarn and Preach. Justify has six crosses to Northern Dancer through Storm Cat, Yarn, Nijinsky, Deputy Minister, Preach, and Baldski, and is a fifth generation descendant of Seattle Slew and a sixth generation descendant of Secretariat. His pedigree also includes multiple crosses to other great sires of the twentieth century, including Native Dancer, Nearco, and Man o’ War.
Justify is currently owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing. Unconfirmed reports say a $75 million breeding agreement is in the works with Ireland-based Coolmore Breeding to stand him at stud at their facility in Kentucky starting in January.
Justify’s Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith, said “I am disappointed he won’t run again, but I am thankful he came into my life. 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 winning the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 9, 2018, the final leg of the Triple Crown. Although he drew post position one, which meant a poor start would see him trapped on the rail, he broke well and jockey Mike Smith sent him straight to the front where he led all the way to the finish line to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Photo: Wikimedia/Mike Lizzi