DEL MAR, Cal. — Triple Crown champion Justify is officially retired.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert made the announcement of the undefeated colt's retirement from racing in a statement issued at his summer headquarters at Del Mar Race Track on July 25.
The flashy chestnut, who is a son of the late stallion Scat Daddy, raced for the WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of the Plains Partners and Starlight Racing.
The colt was taken out of training earlier this month after he developed filling in his left front ankle. The first sign that his career might be in jeopardy was when he was left off the invitation list for the $1 million, Grade 1 Betfair Haskell Invitational to be run July 29 at Monmouth Park.
“Justify had some filling in his ankle and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” Baffert said in is press release. “We all wanted to see Justify run again. But, ultimately, it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60 to 90 days (of training), I can't be definite.”
Justify's last public appearance is likely to be at Del Mar where he is scheduled to parade for his fans on July 28. After that, he will be sent to WinStar to be prepared for a career at stud.
Although no contracts have been signed as yet, the odds on betting is that he will go for Coolmore America for an astronomical sum. The worldwide Coolmore organization also stands 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.
Justify is a son of the Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic. He was bred by John and Tanya Gunther's Glenwood Farm and was consigned to the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. WinStar and the China Horse Club took him out of that sale for $500,000.
After missing his 2-year-old racing season, he broke his maiden at first asking at Santa Anita on Feb. 18. Less than a month later, he was an allowance winner under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith who would remain with him throughout the balance of his racing career.
A win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby qualified him for one of the 20 starting positions in the Kentucky Derby. He became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without at least one race at age 2. After that, it was a half-length win the Preakness and a 1-3/4-length victory in the Belmont put him on a pedestal with the Hall of Fame's Seattle Slew as the only two undefeated Triple Crown winners.
Justify's rocket ride from unheralded maiden to Triple Crown winner was completed in just 111 days.
Justify and Count Fleet, the 1977 Triple Crown winner, are the only two winners of the three races to retire after the Belmont. Count Fleet was injured while winning that race.
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