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6 Facts & FAQs About Justify, Famous Racehorse

6 Facts & FAQs About Justify, Famous Racehorse

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Justify has surely made a name for himself in the horse racing world. The incredible Thoroughbred’s historic career is one for the ages.

Justify was born on March 28, 2015, in Versailles, Kentucky to breeder John Gunther of Glennwood Farms. The stunning chestnut Thoroughbred stallion stands at 16.3 hands tall.

Justify became the 13th winner of the coveted Triple Crown in 2018 after winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

Born:March 28, 2015 (age 7)
Breeder:John D. Gunther
Owner:WinStar Farm (majority owner)
Trainer:Bob Baffert
Record:6: 6–0–0

As a yearling, Justify was purchased at Keeneland September Yearling Sales for $500,000 to the partnership of WinStar Farm (60% ownership), China Horse Club (25%), and SF Racing (15%).

At first, he was sent to trainer Rodolphe Brisset at Keeneland, but after pulling a muscle he was given time to recover and grow. Justify was then sent to legendary trainer Bob Baffert.

After winning his debut race at Santa Anita on February 28, 2018, Justify quickly began to gain attention. His success only continued on from there and he became a racing sensation.

After two close wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Justify went on to secure his Triple Crown win by taking home the Belmont Stakes by a margin of 1 ¾ lengths. His Triple Crown victory comes just three years after American Pharoah’s win, who Baffert also trained.

Justify racehorse at the Preakness Stakes
Photo by Maryland GovPics (Flickr)

After finishing his short but successful career, Justify took home the honor of the 2018 American Horse of the Year. In addition, he was also the Champion three-year-old male, which he earned unanimously.

6 Facts About Justify

1. Justify is the Only Triple Crown Winner to Be Undefeated in His Entire Career

Though Seattle Slew was the first horse to win the Triple Crown undefeated, Justify is the only horse to win the Triple Crown and remain undefeated his whole career. Though he had a short-lived career, Justify won all six of his starts.

Bob Baffert had hopes to race Justify in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in order to complete the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.

The Grand Slam includes winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Classic, a feat that only American Pharoah has achieved.

Unfortunately, in early July 2018, veterinarians discovered fluid in Justify’s left front ankle. Baffert sent the colt off for a detailed evaluation, shortly after announcing his official retirement on July 25, 2018. This ended his bid to win the Breeders’ Classic Cup.

2. Both of His Parents Were Successful Racehorses

Justify comes from a family of successful racehorses. His sire, Scat Daddy, and dam, Stage Magic, both were racehorses prior to their breeding careers.

Scat Daddy won five of his nine starts, including the Champagne Stakes and Florida Derby. After retiring early from injury, he then went on to have a successful career as a stud, siring multiple G1 stake winners. Sadly, he passed away at just 11 years old.

Stage Magic placed third in the 2011 Gardenia Stakes, earning more than $133,000 in her career. She has produced other notable offspring including Stage Raider and The Lieutenant.

Also read: 15 Interesting Horse Racing Facts

3. He Now Stands at Stud at Coolmore

Upon retiring from racing, Justify moved to Ashford Stud, the American branch of Coolmore Stud. His stud fee currently stands at a whopping $125,000.

In 2019, Justify was bred to 252 mares. His first foal was a bay filly born on January 3, 2020, out of the mare Foreign Affair. In 2020, he was bred to 222 mares. So far, a couple of his offspring have sold for over $1 million as yearlings, with many selling for well over $600,000.

4. He Loves Carrots But is Not Big on Affection

Justify’s favorite treats are carrots, particularly peeled baby carrots. However, he is not a big fan of affection and is supposedly a bit bold and aggressive when people go into his stall.

“Justify, you can walk up to him and he might give you three, four, five seconds and then he’s done with you. He’ll try to bite your head off. It’s not in a mean way. He’s just a big, tough horse. He’ll run you out of the stall,” said Baffert.

5. There Was Controversy in His Career

Though Justify had a spectacular career, it did not go without controversy. On April 7, 2018, Justify failed a drug test.

The positive test came out just a few days after Justify’s win in the Santa Anita Derby. He tested positive for 300 nanograms per milliliter of scopolamine.

In qualities that large, scopolamine is commonly a performance-enhancing drug. However, upon further investigation, it was concluded that the positive test could have been a result of feed contamination by jimson weed.

Justify at the 2018 Belmont Stakes
Justify at the 2018 Belmont Stakes. Photo by Mike Lizzi (Flickr)

In most cases, the failed test would have resulted in the disqualification of Justify from the Santa Anita Derby, meaning he would not have enough points to compete in the Kentucky Derby. However, the California Horse Racing Board did not announce the positive results of the test, delaying making any decision about the case before eventually dismissing it in August.

The California Horse Racing Board also went on to change the penalty for a scopolamine test positive to a fine and trainer suspension, which follows international standards adopted in 2016.

Also read: 10 Best Horse Jockeys of All Time

6. Justify was a Big Racehorse

Justify stands at 16.3 hands tall, which is on the larger size for a Thoroughbred. While the average Thoroughbred weighs around 1,000- 1,100 pounds, Justify weighs around 1,268 pounds.

However, other sources claim that during his Triple Crown campaign, Justify weighed 1,380 pounds, which is quite a bit more than most Thoroughbreds.

Also read: 10 Best Racehorses of all Time

Who Was Justify’s Jockey?

For his first race, jockey Drayden Van Dyke rode Justify. However, for the remainder of his career, he was ridden by Mike Smith.

Mike Smith is one of the best jockeys ever and is a part of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He has won the Kentucky Derby twice, Preakness Stakes twice and Belmont Stakes three times.

Justify also won numerous other races including multiple Breeders’ Cups, the Dubai World Cup, Irish 2,000 Guineas, and Breeders’ Stakes, among many more.

How Much Did Justify Earn During His Career?

During his racing career, Justify won $3,798,000. He is also making a large amount of money standing at stud.

Justify’s great-great-great-great-grandfather on his dam’s sire line is Seattle Slew. Both Justify and Seattle Slew are the only horses to win the Triple Crown while being undefeated.

Justify’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather on his sire’s side is Secretariat. He is also related to Count Fleet, War Admiral, Omaha, and Gallant Fox, who are all Triple Crown winners as well.