Justify has his date with destiny when he lines up in the Belmont Stakes in New York on Saturday attempting to complete the American Triple Crown.
Trainer Bob Baffert, of course, was responsible for American Pharoah who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 2015, the last horse to complete the Triple Crown. It would be quite the training feat to do it twice in four years bearing in mind it hadn’t been done for 37-years prior to the triumph of American Pharoah when Affirmed claimed the Crown in 1978.
“Let’s see if he can do it,” Baffert told www.nyra.com “He came out of nowhere, and now he’s picking up steam. People say, Oh, he’s so beautiful. What a beautiful horse. He’s become a rock star, like Pharoah, so let’s see if he can do it.”
He won the Kentucky Derby pretty convincingly at Churchill Downs in the mud at the start of May but Bravazo and Tenfold weren’t that far behind him in the Preakness at a sloppy Pimlico three weeks ago. It’s 1m4f of course for the final leg, which is a step into the unknown for the chestnut colt, plus a couple that he beat at Churchill Downs will re-oppose having skipped the Pimlico race and arguably arrive fresher. Having not run as a 2yo the favourite has run and won, five times since debut in February this year which is very impressive but that’s a busy schedule.
Generally 10-11 in the build-up to become the 13th Triple Crown winner I can’t help but think it might be a case of going to the well once too often.
The Juddmonte Farm colt Hofburg, trained by Bill Mott, looks the most likely to me to appreciate the mile-and-a-half trip and at 5-1 NRNB with Paddy Power as of Wednesday lunchtime, I am on. He had what the Americans refer to as an eventful trip in the Derby but was staying on into seventh. Connections took the decision to skip the Preakness with the trainer saying in the build-up to this “We didn't hit the board in the Derby and didn't see any big advantage to running in the Preakness. We just pointed for the Belmont.” I think that decision can pay off and fancy the son of Tapit to pick them all off as they go down the stretch to the wire as they say across the pond.