Bob Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. He's never lost a race in his life, and watching him run just once makes it apparent why. "He's sent from heaven, I tell you". Justify himself was born on another big day for the Gunther breeding operation, the same Saturday as the 2015 Florida Derby. James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons guided Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.
Take American Pharoah, who won nine out of the 11 races he entered, including the Triple Crown in 2015. Jockey Mike Smith wore the colors of the China Horse Club, one of Justify's owners, on race day; the red outfit with yellow starts resembled the Chinese flag, as the China Horse Club's seeking to grow the sport there. Wayne Lukas for the all-time lead. "He's very professional-a good horseman", Baffert said.
Justify lined up for his maiden start at Santa Anita Park on February 18.
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As a general rule, jockeys get 10% of the prize money for races in which their horses win or place. It's certainly the test of a champion for a reason, and co-owner Elliott Walden is hoping for the best with three weeks of hype ahead.
Baffert's plan had come to fruition. The colt is now undefeated, having taken the roses at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but he drew a tough post spot and will be forced to run right next to the rail, which could make his job even harder. Justify is a special breed, but he does face challenges. But as the saying goes, the great ones can run on anything. "The Apollo curse is something I don't even think about". Apollo (1882) had been the only other Derby victor that did not compete at 2. The task won't be easy as Justify is a flawless five for five in races since debuting, a ideal record. The next year, the classic rivalry of Affirmed and Alydar reached its peak when Affirmed inched ahead by a head to become the last Triple Crown victor until Pharoah arrived.