Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Justify returned to the track at Churchill Downs Friday morning for another routine day of training ahead of next week’s Preakness Stakes (G1).
Arriving on the track shortly after 7:30 a.m. (EDT), Justify jogged to the front of the grandstand, turned around and galloped 1 1/2 times around the track under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.
“That’s his normal self out there: high energy level, feeling very good, had a good bounce in his step, going over the track perfect. Couldn’t fault anything he’s doing right now. Everything looks great,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.
Justify had four days off before resuming training on Thursday
“He’s one that on that third day (off), he’s wanting to go back to the track,” Barnes said. “He tells me in the barn and stall; he gets real pushy and that it’s time to go. He got four days this time, but he’s full of himself out there. He’s happy.”
Kevin Dunlavy, overseeing the veterinary care of Baffert’s horses at Churchill Downs, remarked:
“One of the most remarkable things about him is his capacity for recovery respiratory-wise. He’ll go out and train, it could be a strong gallop, and within minutes he’s completely caught his breath. His recovery seems maybe superior to the average horse.
“I think it was Jimmy who remarked that even in the winner’s circle after the Derby, the horse wasn’t out of breath. He’d run a mile and a quarter like that, and to really catch his breath that quickly, it’s unique. That’s for sure. What makes him maybe a little more elite than another horse…you have to wonder that, cardiovascular-wise, if he’s not a little superior.”
In other Preakness news, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Quip is scheduled to have his final workout on Sunday at Keeneland, while Givemeaminit has been withdrawn from Preakness consideration by trainer Dallas Stewart and will instead point for the Woody Stephens (G2) at Belmont Park next month.
Later Friday evening, Tenfold moved from the “probable” to the “confirmed” column, with Ricardo Santana Jr. named to ride. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred captured his first two starts before checking in fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Others already confirmed are the D. Wayne Lukas duo of Bravazo and Sporting Chance as well as Diamond King from the John Servis barn. Possible starters for the Preakness include Good Magic, Lone Sailor, Bolt d’Oro, and Pony Up.