Justify: The Unbeaten Triple Crown Winner
Justify is a Kentucky thoroughbred chestnut stallion, already retired from racing. Interestingly, Justify belongs to the same line as several other champions, including Seattle Slew, the tenth horse to win American Triple Crown.
Justify is particularly famous because it is the 13nth horse to win that won Kentucky Stakes, followed by the Preakness Stakes two weeks later and ultimately scoping the crown by winning the Belmont stakes two weeks later, the second to win undefeated. As it's a gruelling experience, these three-year-old horses' winnings are recognizable worldwide, putting each horse in the limelight even after they retire.
• Place of birth: Kentucky at Glennwood Farm outside of Versailles
• Date of birth: March 28, 2015
• Sex: Stallion
• Owners: WinStar Farm LLC contributed 60 percent of the buying price, China Horse Club International Ltd. having contributed 25 percent, and SF Racing LLC contributing 15 percent of the $500,000 buying price.
• Trainer: Hall of Famer Bob Baffert
• Sire and Dam: Exceed, Excel and Fate Rules
• Jockey: Mike Earl Smith, the oldest jockey to win Triple Crown at 52
• Record: 6 first starts on dirt surfaces
• Career earnings: $3,798,000 from a series of three races leading to his American Triple Crown championship
The first race and the one that put Justify in the limelight is the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby that qualified him for the Kentucky Stakes. He started off poorly during the race but later took advantage of the field to win with 9 ½ lengths. This performance made the Thoroughbred Daily News to name Justify as "Rising Star".
His win qualified him to enter the Kentucky Stakes, where Justify had to compete against Apollo, Good Magic, and several other famous horses that had won a series of titles. This didn't intimidate Justify. He instead performed exceptionally despite the course been sloppy and unfriendly. But the horse was yet to get to its performance peak. Justify proceeded to compete at the 2018 Preakness Stakes, on a worse course than that of Derby. There had been rains for several consecutive days that stopped several hours before the race commenced. However, this was followed by a fog that limited visibility by 16 miles.
Nothing was about to pull Justify down as he headed for his third achievement opening his opportunity to enter Belmont Stakes, where he also won. Shortly after, Justify retired, becoming the first horse never to have been defeated.
With fame come controversies, and Justify is no different. His win raised concerns about his eligibility for racing. Before the 2018 Kentucky Stakes, Justify tested positive with scopolamine, a drug said to enhance performance. The New York Times reported that the drug test found Justify with 300 nanograms/ millimeter, 240ng/ml excess of what's internationally acceptable.
A veterinarian confirmed to the news reporter that the high amount of the substance didn't match feed contamination and instead seemed like Justify was fed scopolamine intentionally. Usually, this would have led to the horse's disqualification for the Kentucky Stakes, but it didn't happen. Instead, the California Racing Board delayed ruling on the matter and eventually dismissing the case in August 2018.
Justify's owner had plans to enter his horse to Breeders Cup Classic at the end of the year. However, WinStar Farm's dreams were cut short following an injury on the horse's knee. It soon subsided only to reappear several days later, forcing its owner to retire the horse.
The good thing is, Justify's stamina, stride, and speed are not about to end with him. As of January 3, 2020, this athletic horse got his first foal, as Audley Farm reported.