Undefeated Kentucky Derby (Grade I) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner Justify returned to the Churchill Downs racetrack Thursday morning for a one-mile jog following his half-mile breeze in :46.80 Tuesday as he continued training for the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 9.
“It was a really good first day back at the track,” trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes said. “He was pretty strong out there and full of himself. It was exactly what we wanted to see after his breeze Tuesday.”
Baffert, who was in town for Tuesday’s workout, is scheduled to return to Louisville from his Southern California base Saturday or Sunday. The 65-year-old conditioner said Tuesday Justify could possibly breeze Monday.
In other local Belmont Stakes news, Bravazo breezed one mile in 1:42.60 with exercise rider Danielle Rosier aboard for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas . The Preakness runner-up worked through eighth-mile splits of :13.20, :25.60, :38.20, :50.60, 1:03.40, 1:16.60 and 1:30 before completing a 1 1/8-mile gallop out in 1:58, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols .
“I was very pleased with the work,” Lukas said. “With workouts, I’m not really looking at the time but rather how they’re doing it. He did everything we asked. You have to be a tough horse to compete in the Triple Crown series and I think we have a tough horse. He didn’t really get a whole lot of fitness from the Louisiana Derby to the Kentucky Derby with the time between races. I think the Derby made him a lot more fit and that’s part of the reason he did so well in the Preakness.”
Other locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders out for exercise during the exclusive 7:30 a.m. training window were Preakness third-place finisher Tenfold, who galloped about 1 ½ miles with Angel Garcia up for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, and Breeders’ Futurity (GI) winner Free Drop Billy , who galloped about 1 ½ miles with Juan Segundo in the saddle for Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer Dale Romans.
Baffert’s other Belmont hope, Wood Memorial (GI) third Restoring Hope, jogged one mile around 6 a.m.
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, most recently, the Baffert-trained American Pharoah (2015).
The Belmont Stakes field could possibly be comprised of the following 11 horses (with trainer): Bandua (Dermot Weld), Blended Citizen (Doug O’Neill), Bravazo (Lukas), Free Drop Billy (Romans), Gronkowski (Chad Brown), Hofburg (Bill Mott), Justify (Baffert), Noble Indy (Todd Pletcher), Restoring Hope (Baffert), Tenfold (Asmussen) and Vino Rosso (Pletcher).
To watch Justify’s jog and Bravazo’s breeze visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R71qmBtyMaU.
For complementary Belmont Stakes past performances courtesy of Brisnet.com, visit http://www.brisnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BelmontStakes18.pdf.