All Triple Crown winners deserve a special spot in the Horse Racing Hall of Fame, but Justify is definitely one of the most special horses in that selection. After a long winter in the Triple Crown Series with nobody to claim the ultimate title, people started to think that the competition is very high making it winning the Triple Crown almost impossible.
However, American Pharoah and Justify managed to get to this ultimate title in just three years.
So what happened to Justify?
Justify is one of the special horses that won the Triple Crown series and there are a couple of reasons for that.
After conquering the slot at Churchill Downs on May 5, Justify became the first horse since 1882 to win a prestigious Kentucky Derby as a 2-year-old, and from the beginning, he started breaking records. However, he continued with the same pace winning the Preakness Stakes victory through the thick fog on May 16, which got him a ticket for the Belmont Stakes race in New York and a chance to win the ultimate crown of horse racing.
However, after winning the Triple Crown, Justify career didn’t last as long as many people expected.
Even though the owners booked him a spot at the Breeders’ Cup a few months after the Belmont Stakes race, Justify never made it to the race due to a Bad Ankle injury. He was then moved to Del Mar race track, where he was doing its recovery. However, he was not featured in any races in the Del Mar race track schedule by TwinSpires and his trainer ended up admitting he was probably going to retire.
The legendary trainer Bob Baffert said that the inflammation on Justify’s left front ankle is very bad and might cost him his career.
Even after countless vet visits and a boost in the recovery process, he wasn’t responding quick enough for a fall campaign. The horse owners as well as Bob Baffert wanted to see Justify run again, but Baffert said that it is his responsibility to make sure that the horse doesn’t suffer from injury and stays healthy.
Just right after winning the Kentucky Derby, Justify’s breeding rights were bought by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing, agreeing to a $60 million deal with Coolmore, which is a breeding farm that also oversees American Pharoah.
The deal was made that if Justify won the Triple Crown they will add an additional $20 million to the pile.
Justify’s an incredible career made him earn close to $4 million on the track, but his bad ankle is the primary reason why this incredible horse needed to retire early. The risk of an injury was just too high and the cost for insuring a horse like Justify is astronomical or around 3-5% of his $60 million value.
Things were even more complicated just because the owners of Justify’s breeding rights were different than the owners of his racing rights.
As a result of such complications, it was just right to end Justify’s career right here. With that said, Justify managed to break another record of a triple crown winner retiring as an undefeated champion. This exclusive club had only one member which was Seattle Slew in 1977.
Justify managed to win all six races that year, including the Kentucky Derby Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. He was also one of the most profitable horses ever just because he was originally purchased for $500,000 and made $3.9 million in career earnings.
It is a shame that Justify’s career ended in such a way, and it would have been nice to see him participate in other events after the Triple Crown win. The jockey that rode Justify, Mike Smith was also very disappointed after his retirement from racing but added that he is thankful that he was in his racing career.
Justify was one of the best-performing horses in history and at a young age managed to accomplish so much. We hope that we will soon see a Justify successor and someone to claim the Triple Crown throne again.