After stomping a literal mudhole in Churchill Downs at a wet and wild 2018 Kentucky Derby, Justify is on to the second leg of the Triple Crown with an historic championship in mind. Despite seeing so little of him competitively, there are so many angles to talk yourself in to when it comes to this horse. Bob Baffert being his trainer is one of them.
With his eyes on a record-tying seventh victory, one of the trends leaning Baffert’s way is that he is a perfect four-for-four when entering a derby winner at Pimlico.
“He went around there and he looks no different than he did before the Kentucky Derby,” Baffert said of Justify. “We’re pretty happy with where we are right now. He looks healthy. He didn’t lose an ounce of weight, which is very important.”
There’s always concern for the Kentucky Derby following a gruelling 1 1/4 mile race, and this year’s spectacle was on a dangerously sloppy track which could have aggravated any numbers of parts. “The next day, he was so bright and so full of energy that I was pretty impressed myself. Usually all my Derby winners, it takes them about five days to fully snap out of it. But he was pretty sharp the whole time. You could tell today he wanted to go faster than the rider wanted. To me that tells me he’s still on go.”
It’s been a remarkable momentum swing for Justify, who surfaced in late February as a potential derby winner and quickly won over many interested hearts. “I sort of ran him into shape,” Baffert admitted. “In about 75 days, he did all of that and he is still this big, massive horse that he is. But he’s light on his feet and he can take a lot. He’s shown how tough he is. To do what he did in such a short period of time is pretty remarkable, especially beating the field that he did, going as fast as he did early.”
Justify will attempt to be Baffert’s fifth horse to score a double in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. So far, the trainer is a blissful four-for-four.