July 25, 2018 / 7:43 PM / 10 months ago

Triple Crown winner Justify retired, owners announce

FILE PHOTO: Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Triple Crown winner Justify will not race again, WinStar Farm announced Wednesday.

“Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “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.”

There had been talk of Justify competing at the Haskell Invitational in Monmouth Park, N.J., or in the Travers States at Saratoga Race Course in New York on Aug. 25. The most recent Triple Crown winner prior to Justify, American Pharoah in 2015, ran in both races, winning the Haskell and losing by three-quarters of a length in the Travers.

Justify finishes his career at 6-0 with earnings of nearly $3.8 million. He was the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old.

“Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won’t run again, but I am thankful he came into my life,” said jockey Mike Smith, who rode Justify to the Triple Crown this year. “There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat. There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him. He truly is a gift from God.”

Justify will appear at Del Mar Racetrack in Southern California on Saturday in a parade before fans. Then he will return to WinStar Farm in Kentucky.

“The parade at Del Mar will be a great opportunity for the fans in the San Diego area to come out and see him,” Baffert said.

In retirement, Justify will continue to earn money. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported in June that Justify’s owners — who bought the horse as a yearling in $500,000 — sold his breeding rights for $75 million.

—Field Level Media

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