Ankle condition leaves Justify's summer plans on hold

Horse racing observers have been waiting eagerly to find out the future race plans for Triple Crown winner Justify, but because the horse has an ankle ailment, the decision might not come for weeks.

Justify, who returned to Santa Anita Park in Southern California last month to work out at his trainer Bob Baffert's home base, was in full training until he developed some swelling in his left front ankle, Baffert said in a written statement on Tuesday.

"Justify had some filling in his left front ankle a week ago, which subsided in a couple days," Baffert said in the statement. "I trained him last week and the filling came back. We want to get him checked out."

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It throws into question when the horse, which completed the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes on June 9, might run again. Instead of the Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, which some observers thought was a possibility, other possibilities include the Travers Stakes on Aug. 25 at Saratoga Springs in New York.

Should his owners allow him to face older, more experienced horses, Justify could race in the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar in San Diego County on Aug. 18.

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2018 Belmont Stakes
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2018 Belmont Stakes
Jun 9, 2018; Elmont, NY, USA; Mike Smith aboard Justify wins the 150th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Jun 9, 2018; Elmont, NY, USA; Mike Smith aboard Justify (1) wins the 150th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Justify with jockey Mike Smith aboard wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Scenes from during Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A man wearing a suit poses prior to the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Bee Jersey #10, ridden by Ricardo Santana, wins the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Dan Heary/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A woman wears a decorative hat and old fashion dress prior to the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Jockey Junior Alvarado on #7, Beautiful Shot after the running of the Woody Stephens Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Eric Patterson/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A man wears a decorative hat prior to the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Bee Jersey #10, ridden by Ricardo Santana, wins the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by John Voorhees/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A woman wears a fancy hat during Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Fans watch the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A fan wears a decorative hat on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Carson Dennis/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Scenes from Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Still Having Fun #6, ridden by Joel Rosario, wins the Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Scenes from Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: Fans enjoy a picnic during Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A Raving Beauty #7, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., wins the Longines Just a Game Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Eric Patterson/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A man yells during an undercard race as his horse takes the lead during Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: A young fan views a race during Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09: #10 Bee Jersey, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and #1 Mind Your Biscuits, ridden by Joel Rosario battle to the finish in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Eric Patterson/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
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The bottom line is that until Justify gets his ankle evaluated, he won't be hitting the track.

"He is too special to the owners, our team and all the fans he has around the world to not be 100 percent healthy," said Elliott Walden, the president, CEO and racing manager at WinStar Farm, which is the majority owner of Justify. "As far as any future plans for him, they will be decided after we get him checked out."

According to reports, Justify's breeding rights have been sold to Coolmore Stud in Versailles, Ky., for between $60 million and $75 million, though Walden has refused to comment on that. WinStar is also located in Versailles.

--Field Level Media

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