Filling in Justify’s left front ankle has suspended training and racing plans, and the colt will undergo evaluation.
The 13th Triple Crown winner Justify is currently in California, where he will undergo a thorough evaluation after filling in his left front ankle returned after the colt went back into training. Justify had received some time off to recover after a grueling and unprecedented Triple Crown campaign, with tentative plans to work towards some of the late summer stakes and Breeders’ Cup.
According to reports, filling first showed up about a week ago but went down in a few days; after training, the filling returned. Justify’s connections, including trainer Bob Baffert and the owner partnership of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing immediately pressed pause so that the colt could be fully evaluated.
The undefeated Justify’s entire six-race career so far spanned only 112 days between his maiden start and the Belmont Stakes in June: the chestnut son of Scat Daddy debuted on February 18, 2018 at Santa Anita and took the racing world by storm, following up his maiden victory with a second allowance win, then the Santa Anity Derby and on to the Triple Crown. While Justify did not race as a two-year-old, his early three-year-old career certainly came with a steep learning curve — an exponential challenge that Justify not only met but surmounted in breathtaking style. No other horse in history has gone from untested maiden to Triple Crown champion in just four months.
The reaction from fans has been mixed: some yearn for the “old days” in which horses, including most Triple Crown champions save for American Pharoah, would be rugged and sound enough to continue racing, sometimes for years after their historic classic successes. Others believe that Justify has nothing left to prove and should be retired immediately.
Regardless of what fans might desire, Justify’s connections will keep the colt’s best interests at the forefront of any decisions made as a result of the evaluation, and all we can do is wait and hope.
UPDATE 8/11/18 12:48 PM: According to a Daily Racing Form report, Justify’s ankle will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The horse is reportedly not unsound, and the swelling “comes and goes.” For now, the colt will ship with the rest of Baffert’s barn to Del Mar and continue to walk daily.