By Dick Downey
Justify schooled in the starting gate before galloping about 1 1/8 mile Friday morning at Churchill Downs, and assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes was again more than happy with what he saw.
“He’s just breathing fire out there,” Barnes said. “You can tell he’s feeling full of himself. He’s happy with what he’s doing, and that’s most important. He is getting fitter and fitter each day. He has a solid foundation under him now, and I think he’s ready to take the big step forward.”
Justify is scheduled to gallop Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 ET and breeze Monday, according to Barnes. Bob Baffert is expected to be on hand from California by Sunday or Monday.
After Justify left the track, Restoring Hope galloped 1 1/2 mile in preparation for team Baffert.
Free Drop Billy, Tenfold
Free Drop Billy galloped 1 1/2 mile for trainer Dale Romans, and Steve Asmussen’s Tenfold galloped nearly two miles. The latter one is scheduled to breeze Saturday.
Preakness runner-up Bravazo walked trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ shedrow following his one-mile breeze in 1:42.60 Thursday.
Rumored to be on a path to the Belmont Stakes a few days ago, Seahenge was mentioned as a prospect for the first time today by the Churchill Downs press office.
According to a release, the Belmont Stakes field could possibly be comprised of 12 horses: Bandua (TBD/Dermot Weld), Blended Citizen (Kyle Frey/Doug O’Neill), Bravazo (Luis Saez/D. Wayne Lukas), Free Drop Billy (Robby Albarado/Dale Romans), Gronkowski (Jose Ortiz/Chad Brown), Hofburg (Irad Ortiz Jr./Bill Mott), Justify (Mike Smith/Bob Baffert), Noble Indy (Javier Castellano/Todd Pletcher), Restoring Hope (Florent Geroux/Baffert), Seahenge (Ryan Moore/Aidan O’Brien), Tenfold (Ricardo Santana Jr./Steve Asmussen) and Vino Rosso (John Velazquez/Pletcher).