Kentucky Derby (Grade I) and Preakness (GI) winner Justify galloped 1 ½ miles Saturday morning at Churchill Downs with Humberto Gomez in the saddle as the undefeated colt continued preparing for the June 9 Belmont Stakes (GI).
“I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes said. “Once again Bob told me to take it easy with him but he’s doing really well. We backed him up a little further in the stretch to begin his gallop this morning and went a good 1 ½ miles.”
Baffert is expected to return to Churchill Downs on Monday morning to watch Justify train.
Barnes, 58, has worked as Baffert’s assistant for nearly 20 years and oversees the development of the barn’s top horses including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and champion Arrogate.
“You have to get Bob a lot of credit,” Barnes said. “He’s stocked the pond well every year. You have to have the horse and the horsepower to compete in these classic races. We keep coming up with them and are very lucky. You do have to pinch yourself because you don’t know if you will have it every year.”
Also training Saturday during the exclusive 7:30-7:40 a.m. (all times Eastern) training window for Belmont Stakes horses were Preakness runner-up Bravazo, who galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Danielle Rosier aboard for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, and Preakness third Tenfold, who galloped about 1 ½ miles with Angel Garcia for fellow Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen.
Other Belmont Stakes possible contenders based at Churchill Downs are Albaugh Family Stables’ Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner Free Drop Billy and Wood Memorial (GI) third Restoring Hope.
Free Drop Billy is scheduled to breeze Sunday and his Belmont Stakes status could be determined after the work, according to trainer Dale Romans. Restoring Hope could breeze while Baffert is at Churchill Downs on Monday or Tuesday, according to Barnes.
The Belmont Stakes field could possibly be comprised of the following 11 horses (with trainer): Bandua (Dermot Weld), Blended Citizen (Doug O’Neill), Bravazo (D. Wayne Lukas), Free Drop Billy (Dale Romans), Gronkowski (Chad Brown), Hofburg (Bill Mott), Justify (Baffert), Noble Indy (Todd Pletcher), Restoring Hope (Baffert), Tenfold (Steve Asmussen) and Vino Rosso (Pletcher).
Only 12 horses have swept the Triple Crown: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015).
To watch Justify’s gallop Saturday morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edhR_5LqVoU
For complementary past performances of the Belmont Stakes contenders courtesy of Brisnet.com: http://www.brisnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BelmontStakes18.pdf.
Sunday’s exclusive training period at Churchill Downs also will feature Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Monomoy Girl, who is scheduled to breeze in company with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. She is preparing for a start in the Grade I, $700,000 Acorn at one mile on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
FANS CAN WATCH JUSTIFY TRAIN IN PERSON OR ONLINE – With unbeaten Triple Crown hopeful Justify and four other possible Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack is conducting a special 7:30-7:40 a.m. (all times Eastern) training period for those horses.
Area horse racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility free of charge. Churchill Downs Racetrack will open its Paddock Gate entrance between 7-8 a.m. each morning through Monday, June 4 so the public can watch Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify along with rivals Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope and Tenfold prepare for the 1 ½-mile third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – the 150th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (Grade I) on Saturday, June 9.
Guests may park free of charge in the Orange and Black Lots outside of the Paddock Gate.
Video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens at Churchill Downs. Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises with commentary on the Kentucky Derby Facebook (www.facebook.com/KentuckyDerby), Twitter (www.twitter.com/kentuckyderby) and at www.KentuckyDerby.com/Works from 7:20-7:45 a.m. through Monday, June 4, thanks to TwinSpires.com, the country’s leading online and mobile betting platform and official betting partner of Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel.