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.
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