Gets Right Down to Business
By Dick Downey
Updated workout ranks
On a warm, muggy morning at Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby victor Justify was sent out by Bob Baffert to work four furlongs 10 days after winning the Preakness Stakes.
Martin Garcia, who was in town from California, took the son of Scat Daddy to the track accompanied by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes and his lead pony promptly at 7:30, just after the main track had been renovated. It was in excellent condition, and analyst Brandon Stauble observed that it was probably a bit tight following some rain.
With a light sprinkle coming down, Justify and Garcia got down to business quickly and ran through fractions 12.00, 23.60 and 35.20 before completing four furlongs in 46.80 (1/43). They galloped past the wire out five furlongs in 59.60.
The next-fastest workout at the distance today was that of Flora Dora, timed in 47.20.
Bob Baffert was pleased with the work and said that Justify hasn't regressed since winning the Kentucky Derby.
Justify came off the track looking a little hot, but Daily Racing Form's Nicole Russo tweeted it's to be expected.
“He worked really well,” Baffert said. “The trackman (Jamie Richardson) did a great job with the track this morning with some impeding rain. Martin knows how to breeze the horse so I flew him in from California. He warmed up really nice. I basically didn’t say anything on the radio to Martin after I asked him how he was warming up. He went in a nice groove.
“We let him gallop out a little further past the five-eighths pole, he took a big breath and turned around to go back to the barn. I’m really happy. It’s what you want to see. I knew yesterday the way he galloped he was ready to do something. The day before he didn’t get to do much with the rain, and he may not get to do much this week because of rain as well.
“American Pharoah looked like that. That’s what you want to see with another week to go before the Belmont. He looked really good and in great shape. He’s moving forward and held his weight for being a massive horse. I went to see Pharoah yesterday. He got really big and I was really emotional when I was there. I asked him if it was okay if another horse broke his record, and he didn’t seem to have a problem with it.”
Baffert will make one more trip to Churchill Downs before the Belmont.
“I’ll head back to California today and come back either late Saturday or Sunday and possibly breeze on Monday before we leave for New York Wednesday," he said.
Earlier this morning, Belmont Stakes candidate Restoring Hope breezed seven furlongs for Baffert in 1:26.00 (1/1). His splits were 13.20, 25.60, 37.40, 1:01.80 and 1:13.80, and he galloped out a mile in 1:40.20.
“I thought he worked really well,” Baffert said. “He’s a really competitive horse and is honest on the track. We were disappointed how he ran in the Pat Day Mile, but I don’t think he liked the sloppy track.”
Restoring Hope is being considered for the Easy Goer Stakes as a backup.
"He's like a one-paced horse. Belmont is my first choice, because I think he can hit the board. I've always been high on him. Like in the Wood Memorial, he ran a good third there."
Both horses are expected to work again before the Belmont Stakes, probably next Monday. Justify is scheduled to walk the Barn 33 shedrow Wednesday morning and could return to the track Thursday.
Baffert also sent out Solomini, who's entered in a June 2 allowance race at Churchill, and he worked four furlongs in 48.00 (10/43), breezing. Ax Man, winner of the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard, breezed four furlongs in 48.60 (13/43) for Baffert.
Other locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders training during the exclusive 7:30 a.m. training window were Preakness runner-up Bravazo, who galloped 1 1/2 mile for D. Wayne Lukas, and Steve Asmussen’s Preakness third Tenfold, who galloped about 1 1/2 miles.
Free Drop Billy, stabled in trainer Dale Romans’ Barn 4 at Churchill Downs, had a scheduled walk day following his :59.60 five-furlong breeze yesterday.