HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

With Justify sidelined, Baffert asks, ‘What more could he do?'

Following this week’s announcement that was recently taken out of heavy training, Bob Baffert, the unbeaten colt’s conditioner, said Wednesday that the Triple Crown winner will walk the shed row before re-evaluated in two weeks.

Baffert found swelling in Justify’s left front ankle that will prevent him from starting July 29 in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

“The plan was to make the Haskell, but with the last few days, I mean last week, he came up with an issue,” Baffert said, “and now our plans are on hold. His racing is on hold right now, at least for a couple weeks.”

Baffert said the rigors of sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes caught up with the big chestnut, especially after only making his debut in February.

“He just did so much,” the Hall of Famer said. “I mean he did it all in 112 days, and just came up with a small issue, and now I have to back off him.

“I don’t know what his plans are. I don’t even know if he’ll be able to make the Breeders Cup.”

The Nov. 3 Classic at Churchill Downs has been stated as a goal — and possibly a career finale — for Justify, who opened his career 6-for-6. Baffert said nothing has been discussed beyond the Breeders’ Cup with the ownership group headed by managing partner WinStar Farm.

“But you know their value when they do something like he did in the breeding shed is a lot,” Baffert said “You know, the value, and the cost of insurance to keep going. It’s a lot of pressure, but you know, he’s done a lot. I mean, what more could he do?”

However, as seems to be the case with Baffert’s barn in recent years, when one door begins closing, more open.

Baffert said Grade 1 winner McKinzie, who would have been a top Kentucky Derby contender were it not for a muscle strain discovered in the spring, is “coming back…and he looks great.” The Hall of Famer also noted that the reigning 3-year-old champion West Coast recently rejoined his barn after a freshening. Collected, runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, should be back soon as well. 

“Collected, he should be back here next week,” Baffert said. “The Classic will be a little tight for him, I think. But West Coast and McKinzie should be there.”

And as for Justify? We’ll have to wait and see.



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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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