Horses

Belmont Stakes Day Countdown: Justify Works In Kentucky

Justify prepares for Belmont Stakes Credits: The New York Racing Association, Inc.

ELMONT, N.Y. — Trainer Bob Baffert said "that's what you want to see" after undefeated Triple Crown hopeful Justify turned in a bullet half-mile work on May 29 at Churchill Downs, covering the distance in 46 4/5 seconds and galloping out five-eighths of a mile in 59 3/5.

Jockey Martin Garcia, who regularly works Justify while Hall of Famer Mike Smith is aboard for the races, was up for the move, the fastest among the 43 works at that distance of the day. His gallop-out time was surpassed only by two five-eighths of a mile works.

"I was hoping for that kind of work," said Baffert. "Like [his 2015 Triple Crown winner] American Pharoah came back here and looked like that. I wish the race were this week. We've got another week to go, but I think we're in great shape. I feel pretty strong that he's not going backward on us, he's moving forward. 

Sign Up for E-News

"I was surprised the time and how easy he was doing it," he added. "We let him gallop out a little bit just to make sure he pulled up down there where Jimmy [assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes on his pony] was. He stopped, took a deep breath and he was happy when he turned around."

Baffert said the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will have one more work, perhaps on June 4, before the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday June 9. 

Justify is scheduled to fly to New York on Wednesday, June 6.

Justify's official splits were 12 seconds for the first eighth-mile, 23 3/5 for the half-mile and 35 1/5 for three-eighths of a mile, according to Churchill clockers.



"It went really well," said Baffert, who is going for his second Triple Crown. "I was worried about the rain and the weather. The track man did just an outstanding job in having it ready for us. It had some bounce to it. He went around there really nice. He warmed up really nice and I was talking to [Garcia] on the radio the whole time. I basically didn't say anything to Martin at all during the work. He just had him down in a nice little groove. You can see the way he's held his weight. He's just a big massive horse."

Earlier, Baffert had said Justify would be going out for a "little breeze."

As well, Gary and Mary West's Restoring Hope worked seven-eighths of a mile in 1:26 shortly after 6 a.m., with splits of 12 1/5, 25 3/5, 37 2/5, 1:01 4/5 and 1:13 4/5, then galloping out the mile in 1:40 1/5 under Florent Geroux, who will ride him in the Belmont Stakes.

Baffert said that while the $150,000 Easy Goer at 1 1/16 miles on the undercard was being considered, his first choice would be to run Restoring Hope in the Belmont Stakes. In his last start, Restoring Hope was 12th in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard. The son of Giant's Causeway finished third in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Wood Memorial off a maiden victory at Santa Anita.

"He worked nice," Baffert said. "He's like a one-paced horse. Belmont is my first choice, because I think he can hit the board. I've always been high on him. Like in the Wood Memorial, he ran a good third there."

The Challengers:

Co-owner Jason Loutsch said  by phone on May 29 that Free Drop Billy will run in the Belmont Stakes. Albaugh Family Stables' colt had a walk day after working five-eighths of a mile in 59 3/5 seconds a day earlier with a strong gallop-out. Trainer Dale Romans, who has finished third in the Belmont Stakes four times, said after the work that he thought Free Drop Billy deserved to run but that the decision would be left up to the owners, with Loutsch both racing manager and partner in the horses with his father-in-law, Iowa industrialist and philanthropist Dennis Albaugh.

"I guess our main thing coming out of the Kentucky Derby was, obviously, we were really disappointed," said Loutsch of Free Drop Billy's 16th-place finish. "We feel he's a better horse than that, and we're going to cross that one off. We wanted to see how he bounced back after that race, and yesterday he showed us he has a lot of energy and is a happy horse. He galloped out really strong, and Dale's been really happy with his training. 

"This is a huge race, a big stage, and this is what we're in the game for: to run in big races. This is a great opportunity. We know it's going to be a very tough challenge. But if we can get a piece of it, even hitting the board is a huge accomplishment, and we're excited for the opportunity."

Loutsch said it didn't take much discussion with Albaugh. 

"No, no," he said. "He loves the big races. I just had to point out the pros and cons to him, try to educate him as best I could about all the circumstances. In the end, he's like, 'This horse only gets one chance to run in the Belmont. He deserves the opportunity; let's give it to him.' [Free Drop Billy's] dad [Union Rags] was a Belmont winner, and he's out of a Giant's Causeway mare. He's bred to go the distance. We just hope he runs to his breeding."

Preakness runner-up Bravazo had another lively gallop under exercise rider Danielle Rosier at Churchill Downs.

"He's had a good week," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Belmont Stakes winner. "Good energy, bucking and jumping during his gallops, which is kind of unusual."

Lukas said Bravazo reiterated will have one work between the Preakness and Belmont but had not decided when.
Lukas, who was on the track on his pony, got a close look at Justify's work, joking, "I tried to keep Bravazo from looking at him because I didn't want him to go off his feed and be intimidated, so we had to be careful. I told Danielle, 'When he goes by, just kind of cover that right eye.'"

Asked if Bravazo gets a close look at all the motivational signs Lukas has hanging in his barn while walking the shedrow, he said more seriously, "He's actually buying into what we're doing pretty good. He's a much better horse than I took to the Preakness, I know that. He'll have to be."

Of Justify's work, Lukas said: "His efficiency of motion is so good and so effortless. That work today, I thought he could have gone in :50 the way he did it. It was just effortless, there was no effort at all. When you have that efficiency of motion like that, I think the mile and a half is well within his scope."

Winchell Thoroughbreds' Tenfold had a walk day after galloping two miles on May 28. Scott Blasi, assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen, said the Preakness Stakes third-place finisher is expected to have his one pre-Belmont work on June 2.

Post Positions for the 150th Belmont Stakes will be drawn Tuesday, June 5 at 5:30 p.m in the Foxwoods Club at Citi Field prior to the New York Mets game against the Baltimore Orioles.

See more Equestrian news at www.TAPintoHorses.net

Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TAPintoHorses/

Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Sparta

Sparta Police: Speeding Stop Ends with Lost Driver Charged with DWI

June 22, 2018

SPARTA. NJ – A Newark man who thought he was heading to Atlantic City only won a trip to the Sparta Police Department headquarters after being stopped for speeding.  On June 18 around 3 a.m. Cpl. Kurt Morris stopped Manuel Pinheiro, 48, for driving 84 MPH in a 55 MPH zone on Route 15 south, police said.

When Morris spoke with Pinheiro the officer smelled alcohol coming from the ...

Sparta Police: Byram Woman's Broken Light Ends in Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ – A Byram woman is facing drug charges having been stopped for a broken headlight on White Lake Road.  On June 15 Abigail Carkhuff, 22, was pulled over by Police Officer Brian Porter around 10:40 p.m. police report.

When Porter spoke with Carkhuff the officer smelled marijuana in the car.  A search of the grey Ford Escape turned up a ziplock bag of marijuana and a ...

Sparta Police: Speeding Stop Nets Drug Charges for Two Brooklyn Men

SPARTA, NJ – Two men from Brooklyn, New York stopped for speeding are facing drug charges.  On June 16 around 11 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over a grey Toyota Rav4 driven by David Mai, 20 going 95 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, police said.

When Herd spoke with the Mai, the officer smelled marijuana in the car. Mai said he had pot in his backpack.  Sparta Police ...

Sparta High School Time Capsule

June 20, 2018

To the editor: 

For this year’s AP project in our English class, we have put together a 2018 Sparta High School time capsule to be opened in 25 years. The capsule, likely to be buried next to the garden behind the school, will contain student testimonies, memes, and other relics of our time. Hopefully with this project we hope to preserve our unique experience of teenage ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Vasa Park, Hackettstown

Midsommar at Vasa Park

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River

Education

Carousel_image_a567a59640ee87a05151_boe_sign__2_

Mon, June 25, 5:30 PM

Mohawk Avenue School, Sparta

Sparta Board of Education Meeting UPDATED

Education

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, June 30, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Carousel_image_6f4ecc7e007a7b295623_farmers_market

Sat, July 7, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Carousel_image_ace2e0a21a0268782288_sparta_historical_society

Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Home & Garden

Carousel_image_dc175377b12fc03a60a8_toni4

Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment

Sussex Stags Football Team to Hold Fourth Annual Golf Outing

June 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The Sussex County Stags will be holding their fourth annual gold outing on Saturday June 23.

Arrival time is 11:30 a.m. at the Minebrook Golf Club located at 500 Schooleys Mountain Road in Hackettstown. Golfing will begin at 1 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at www.sussexstags.com.

Tickets are $125 per person and include the following: golfing, the cart, an all you ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...

5 Home-Related To-Do’s Before Leaving On Vacation

With school out and the summer sun shining down, thoughts turn to summer vacation trips.  Team Nest Builder offers these 5 home-related tips to follow to avoid everything from minor inconveniences to major headaches upon your return:

Pause Your Post & Paper

Piled up mail and newspapers act like a “rob me” sign!  Avoid tipping off strangers to your absence by ...

Why Buying a Home is Better Than Renting

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home in New Jersey, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, Team Nest Builder wants to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. This graph from their report shows rent increases from 1988 ...

5 Fab Father's Day Happenings in Sussex & Morris Counties

Father’s Day hits this Sunday--what do YOU have planned? Team Nest Builder offers a slew of Father’s Day fun in Morris and Sussex County. Read on and surprise Dad with cool activities! (Be sure to check if registration is required prior to showing up!)

Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester

From 9am-noon, take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers ...

Don't Miss Sunday's OPEN HOUSE for 4BR Sparta Mountain Beauty

Perched handsomely on an acre in the beautiful SpartaMountain community, 28 Waters Edgeoffers a 4BR 2.5 Bathroom home with space and style. Come see for yourself this Sunday, June 17th, from 1-3pm at our OPEN HOUSE!

Located in the prestigious Sparta Mountain Reserve, this large, beautiful center hall colonial with open floor plan has a nice, level play yard with direct ...

Days on The Housing Market Drops to New Low

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes remained on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, opined,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this ...

Pass It Along Triathlon

Tri-something new this July and sign up for the Pass It Along Triathlon!

The 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at the Lake Mohawk Country Club. This triathlon features two USAT-certified courses - Olympic and Sprint. This triathlon has become a Sparta tradition and everyone is welcome to attend to cheer on athletes and be a part of the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting

NEWTON, NJ - The June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting video.

 

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019 and Awards 13 Grants to 11 Local Community Non-Profit Organizations

June 22, 2018

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019

and Awards 13 Grants to 11 Local Community Non-Profit Organizations

June 21, 2018  – Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it will award a total of 13 grants to 11 local community non-profit organizations in its nine-county service area for 2018-2019, with an increase in total program funding at 15% ...