Triple Crown winner Justify retired from racing

July 25 (Reuters) - Justify, the undefeated winner of U.S. thoroughbred racing's coveted Triple Crown this year, has been retired from racing, his connections announced on Wednesday.

The 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy won all of his six career starts, most notably the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to become only the second Triple Crown winner since 1978.

"Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign," said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. "We all wanted to see Justify run again, but ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60-90 days, I can't be definite."

Justify broke the "Curse of Apollo" in May when he triumphed at the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Run for the Roses without starting as a 2-year-old.

SEE ALSO: 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo believed he was better than Tom Brady

From there, Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, never looked back as he fended off all challengers to record a wire-to-wire victory at a foggy Preakness Stakes before winning the Belmont Stakes by 1-3/4 lengths.

"Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won't run again, but I am thankful he came into my life," said Hall of Fame rider Smith.

"There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat. There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him. He truly is a gift from God."

24 PHOTOS
2018 Belmont Stakes
See Gallery
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, and Starlight Racing, Justify was purchased for $500,000 in 2016 and went on to amass earnings of $3.8 million.

"The timing is bad for another start in 2018, and therefore, we have to retire him," said WinStar Farm's Elliott Walden.

"We can't take the risk of running Justify as a 4-year-old. We all wanted him to finish his career in the Breeders' Cup Classic (in November), but it was not meant to be."

Walden also said there is a possible sale of Justify, who will parade at Del Mar racetrack in California on Saturday, in place that a deal will not be finalized until a later date. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Alison Williams)

Read Full Story