All good things must come to an end, and for a champion like Justify, who won the Triple Crown this past year, that means retiring after an ankle injury, reports Horse Racing Nation.
“Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “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.”
That means the great champion will be retiring undefeated, having won all six races over the span of his career. He accomplished many historical feats along the way. Justify ended the “Curse of Apollo” after he won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old. Not only that, but he is also one of only two horses to accomplish the Triple Crown while undefeated and is only the 13th horse in history to win it. The original plan was for Justify to race one more time to set him up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November as his big finish. It would have allowed him to follow the same path to stud as American Pharoah, who was Baffert’s 2015 Triple Crown winner.
Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, and Starlight Racing, the colt made their dreams come true. He amassed earnings of $3,798,000.
“He is an incredible horse and we are very disappointed he can’t run again,” said WinStar Farm’s Kenny Troutt. “When we look back on this, we have been a part of an undefeated Triple Crown Champion, and hopefully a Horse of the Year.”
Hall-of-fame rider Mike Smith made history on the back of Justify as he won the Triple Crown.
“Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won’t run again, but I am thankful he came into my life,” Smith said. “There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat.”
Justify will return to WinStar Farm in early August, reports Horse Racing Nation. Before heading there, Justify will get the chance to parade at Del Mar on Saturday.
“The parade at Del Mar will be a great opportunity for the fans in the San Diego area to come out and see him,” said Baffert.
They will surely never forget him. After all, Justify, in his short career, accomplished so much that he made sure that he will always be remembered.