This space is reserved for Justify, Bob Baffert and Mike Smith. I consider this the greatest training achievement since ole’s Wood won 5 consecutive Belmont’s back in the 1980’s. Which I also witnessed. I feel truly blessed to have seen this magnificent colt show the kind of special grit, to turn back first Vino Rosso and them Gronkowski – surprising as anything else – to win very well.
You might say, Justify gave me a quick hook and knocked me on my butt! Fair enough, because I though it unlikely that he could muster the necessary energy after this grueling schedule. But he did and now I am counting to 8 !
One comment on strategy, it was really interesting how Justify had a lovely convoy of Restoring Hope on his flank and Noble Indy on his flank. The three of them ran along, making sure nobody mounted an early challenge, so after running 23 and a piece he got to run 25 seconds per quarter to the 6 furlong mark, which proved to be a sufficient breather.
Vino Rosso did come to him between the 1 Mile and 1 1/4 Mile pole, and looked to be a major danger, but then Justify kept churning along, while Vino Rosso ( the horse I felt sure would run an improved race and he did – I think) started to flatten out. I think we have to make a special mention of the way Gronkowski, trained by the other great trainer of our day, Chad Brown, who came out of the gate very sluggish and was back of Justify by about a POLE, but after the 6 furlong pole, he started to eat into that lead and make an amazing run after they went a 1/8. He seemed to be traveling just about as well as Justify at the very end.
So again, we see this years crop producing another tremendous colt!
In the end, Justify was many lengths better than either Hofburg or Vino Rosso, but only a couple of lengths to the good of Gronkowski. But I can’t imagine this horse will ever be beaten, while history says it’s likely to happen, he now stands with Seattle Slew as an undefeated Triple Crown winner. But after the Triple Crown, Seattle Slew did get nipped more than once. Justify is essentially the only horse to walk this torture test and remain undefeated! Now only Personal Ensign and Justify are the only Grade I. champions who are undefeated… let’s hope he stands next to the greatest mare I ever saw, as the only colt to have this honor as well. I certainly hope so (but I can’t guarantee that I won’t take a shot to beat him, if the FIGS say so), I think Justify and Bob Baffert are simply amazing and obviously GREAT – GREAT – GREAT.