San Diego

Triple Crown Winner Justify Unlikely to Race at Del Mar

Injury will probably keep the Triple Crown winner off the track this summer

Justify is the most famous racehorse on earth. Justify is now at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. But Justify is not going to race there.

On Monday at the Del Mar stables, just two days before Opening Day for the 2018 racing season, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert broke the bad news.

“Unfortunately he probably won’t run here,” said Baffert. “He came out with a little issue a couple of weeks after the Belmont (Stakes) so we’re watching it really closely.”

Baffert says the Triple Crown winner developed a filling in his left front ankle, which is a soft tissue injury that he speculated came from a strain. X-rays revealed no break but Justify has not had a workout in a week. Baffert says the injury is not major and hopes letting it rest for two to three weeks will keep the filling from flaring up again.

Even if it is 100% healed at that point it would be a miracle if the thoroughbred saw the track in San Diego … if he ever races again. The big races remaining on the schedule are the Haskell Invitational, the Travers Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, which this year returns to historic Churchill Downs.

In 2015 Baffert ran Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in all three races. Given the injury, he’s not sure if he will run Justify in any of those events.

“I haven’t thought about that,” said Baffert. “We’re just trying to get him right.”

With stud fees for Justify estimated to reach $75 million, this might turn into a business decision. Shutting down the horse completely (and permanently) preserves not only his health but also his Triple Crown-winning legacy.

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