Triple Crown winner Justify has been forced into retirement from racing due to a troublesome ankle, ending a historic career on the track.
“Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” trainer Bob Baffert told reporters earlier this week. “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.”
In appreciation of his retirement, we will look back at what made the undefeated horse so special.
Justify dominated in his first start at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 18 and never looked back, winning his next five races in fashion. He won the Kentucky Derby by 2-1/2 lengths, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old.
Justify went on to capture The Preakness Stakes under less-than-ideal conditions with pressure from the field. Then, Justify went on to win The Belmont Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion, winning by 1-3/4 lengths to become the first undefeated Triple Crown winner since Seattle Slew in 1977.
Jockey Mike Smith was aboard the Triple Crown victories and he knew he was riding a special colt.
“Like everyone else. I am disappointed he won’t run again, but I am thankful he came into my life,” Smith said in a statement.
“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’s six victories resulted in him earning $3,798,000 in a short 3-1/2 month span. He became the 13th Triple Crown winner and the second horse to do so in four years. He captivated the hearts of many and his accomplishments will be one for the history books.
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