Horse > Justify
Justify Career Statistics
Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings: $3,798,000
Owner: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing, WinStar Farm
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper
Notable Wins: Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown
Justify Horse Profile
Justify is now 6-for-6 in his career after winning the Tirple Crown with the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
He hit the Triple Crown sweep with his final start in the Belmont Stakes pursuing history as the 13th horse to win all three jewels. Jockey Mike Smith won the Belmont Stakes in 2010 and 2013, and was a 2-time Eclipse Award winner in 1993 and 1994 while based in New York. Trainer Bob Baffert was the most recent trainer to win the Triple Crown with American Pharoah in 2015. This will be the 5th time Baffert brings a Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner to the Belmont Stakes with a shot at clinching the historic sweep. Justify was the fastest 3-year-old dirt horse in training in his historical year and he had to beat a number of fresh shooters in the Belmont; along with other more rested challengers from the Kentucky Derby. All while trying to win his third major stakes race in five weeks. Justify faced numerous closing types in this year’s Belmont Stakes, but his tactical speed while leading the field, allowed him to save ground with Belmont’s large sweeping turns to add the 1 ½ mile distance in the ‘Test of the Champion’ to his resume. With such a short career, Justify will miss the opportunity to race in the Breeders’ Cup. Thus handicappers won’t get the chance to bet on or see him contend the other dirt greats of his time at then end of 2018.
Justify winning the Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)
Justify Heading Into the Kentucky Derby
Justify lived up to the hype in his stakes debut by winning the Santa Anita Derby by 3 lengths over Bolt d’ Oro. That victory as the 4-5 favorite propelled Justify to the top of the favorites list for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Justify earned an outstanding 114 BRIS Speed Rating and cruised home in the final 3/8 mile in :37.11 seconds. His Beyer Speed Figure was 107; highest among all Derby starters in their final prep race. Trainer Bob Baffert also said Justify did it over a Santa Anita surface that was deep and playing slow all afternoon.
BRIS speed measures how fast a horse ran a particular race and is comparable across distance, surface, and location. Class measures competition within each race. This is a different speed rating measure than the Beyer or Equibase speed figures.
Key Speed Figures and Stats for Justify
- Final 3/8 mile time in the Santa Anita Derby :37.11 seconds
- Best BRIS Speed and Class Rating of 114 in Santa Anita Derby
- 3-for-3 in 2018 but unraced as a 2-year-old
The talent of Justify is immense, and you can’t dismiss him from your exotic, trifecta and superfecta wagers, where he can be overlaid rather than and underlay playing to win at a short price. He may be just scratching the surface as a raw talent with room to grow, but having been unraced as a 2-year-old, there is some concern. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without a start as a 2-year-old.
Of greater concern seems to be that Justify raced in small fields in three starts, the largest being seven horses in the Santa Anita Derby. He’s cruised on the lead in all three victories without being pressured, and now he’ll face numerous top-tier 3-year-olds with a number of pace pressers. So he not only has to prove he can battle with more burners on the front end, but carry his speed the added distance to cover the long Churchill Downs stretch and 1 ¼ miles. His sire Scat Daddy has had success as an internationally prominent sire, but has yet to sire a winner in the American Triple Crown series.
Justify is the likely favorite at post for the 2018 Kentucky Derby, and he’ll try to become the sixth-straight post-time favorite to win the Derby.
Kentucky Derby Thoughts by John Mucciolo
Bob Baffert’s latest sensation was a powerful winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) to make his way in the field and he is the one to beat.
An unraced juvenile, the son of Scat Daddy made his debut on February 18th at ‘The Great Race Place’. And what a debut it was! Chestnut colt, who was equipped with blinkers at first asking, led from the break and increased his margin at every call in his seven-furlong debut, finishing 9 1/2-lengths clear under the wire.
An allowance walk-in-the-park followed without the hood off, which set him up well for his biggest test on April 7. Justify was bet to 9-10 favoritism in the Santa Anita Derby and never flinched, taking command early and finishing three lengths clear of multiple Grade-1 hero Bolt d’Oro.
The 1,200+-pounds colt is a perfect three-for-three and is one of the more exciting prospects to come around in recent memory. Justify has posted, chronologically, exquisite BRIS Speed figures of 100-104-114. His conditioner has compared him to Champion Point Given. Wow!
Kentucky-bred brought the gavel down at $500,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Justify is out of a stakes-placed dam and a half-brother to the stakes-placed The Lieutenant. He does not boast the richest pedigree in the field, though his ability on the track makes up for that.
Justify is a combination of speed, size, power and grace. Colt has a mostly effortless stride that covers a lot of ground, and none of us really know how good he can become.
Following his Grade-1 triumph, Mike Smith stated “What you’re seeing right now is really just raw talent. He’s got so much room to grow and to even get better, believe it or not. If he moves forward off this race, which he should, then it’s even kind of scary to talk about.”
I have little doubt that if Justify stays healthy and performs like he has to this point that he will evolve into a Hall-of-Fame horse. We simply do not see thoroughbreds with his size and speed to explode onto the scene like he has.
But for the 2018 Kentucky Derby, I say no. Justify will not only try to break the “Curse of Apollo” in being unraced as a two-year-old, he also hasn’t faced an ounce of adversity to this point. For all of his amazing attributes, Justify is not battle tested nor has he had any dirt thrown in his face.
The post-position draw may be more crucial to Justify than any other Derby horse. If the colt draws anywhere near the inside, I will completely toss him. The mammoth three-year-old needs to draw outside in order to put his best foot forward in the Kentucky Derby, in my opinion.
I am certain that Justify has the ability to win the Kentucky Derby, maybe more so than each of his counterparts. He’s a flat-out beast! But for my aforementioned reasons, I am willing to omit him from the Kentucky Derby equation as a short-priced favorite.
Justify winning the Santa Anita Derby (Benoit Photography)