Justify's Triple Crown Win Sparks Controversy About Blocking Horse

Lynette Rowe
June 13, 2018

Triple Crown victor Justify returned to Churchill Downs for a little rest Monday, arriving just before a thunderstorm and greeted by camera-clicking fans intent on getting a shot of horse racing's newest superstar.

Justify was purchased as a yearling for $500,000 and debuted less than four months ago on February 18, going on to win all five races he started.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Triple Crown victor Justify has returned to Churchill Downs to rest as the track where the quest began prepares to celebrate the milestone. On June 17, the colt will travel to trainer Bob Baffert's base in Southern California to await his next move.

Though Justify won the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes this weekend, the 13th Triple Crown champion in horse racing history was immediately met with controversy. "There is no one more deserving than him". That's his job, to protect the other horse, and it worked for them.

Steve Lewandowski, the New York Gaming Commission steward, said Sunday that there is no plan to talk to Geroux.

Baffert can expect to hear from officials at several tracks eager to lure racing's newest superstar, much like he did with American Pharaoh.

Following the race Geroux admitted that he struggled to keep control of Restroing Hope, while owner Gary West told the New York Post that he didn't like the way Restoring Hope raced and that he didn't understand Geroux's race strategy. After winning the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, Vino Rosso ran ninth on a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby. And, not for nothing, Seattle Slew raced six times and won six times in the 95 days between his 3-year-old debut in March and his triumph in the Belmont Stakes.

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"He ran a large number of races in a short amount of time with no 2-year-old foundation", said Chad Brown, who trains Gronkowski. But now what? Has another "savior" of horse racing come and gone?

The age limit for horses in the Derby is three years.

The victory over Belmont Park's sweeping 1 ½-mile oval was the sixth straight for Justify, who joined Seattle Slew - also a wire-to-wire Belmont victor in 1977 - as the only undefeated winners of the Triple Crown.

He's also just the second trainer ever to win two Triple Crowns, having also won with American Pharoah in 2015.

Baffert has been doing enough of that lately without him.

"Pharoah made so many people feel good", Baffert said. "He was showing me the brilliance, superior horse. Oh, Mike. Don't empty that tank", Baffert said.

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