September 18, 2019

Justify to join fellow Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at Coolmore’s Ashford

Justify capped his meteoric career in the Belmont Stakes (Photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese/Chelsea Durand)

WinStar Farm on Friday confirmed the news that the Thoroughbred world had been expecting since earlier this summer: Justify will stand alongside American Pharoah at Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud, making it the home of both living Triple Crown winners.

A deal had reportedly been in the works, and now is nearing the final touches to make it official.

“After much deliberation with all the partners, we’ve decided to accept Coolmore’s offer to stand Justify,” said Elliott Walden, president, CEO, and racing manager of WinStar Farm in the press release.

“As you can imagine, this is a bittersweet moment for all of us connected to this special horse, who gave us the ultimate thrill of a lifetime. We believe strongly in Justify as a stallion, and the ownership group has retained breeding rights. We look forward to supporting him at Ashford Stud.”

The partnership governing Justify’s breeding rights overlapped, but did not totally coincide with, his co-owners for racing purposes. WinStar Farm and China Horse Club were the principals in both categories. According to published reports, SF Bloodstock kept its breeding interests in Justify while farming out its share of the colt’s racetrack exploits to Starlight Racing and Sol Kumin’s Head of Plains Partners.

Coolmore had a reason to pursue Justify aside from the Triple Crown angle: he’s by their international sire sensation Scat Daddy, whose premature death at the age of 11 shocked and saddened the bloodstock world. Justify, a weanling at the time, therefore comes from his penultimate crop.

Foaled the year that American Pharoah snapped the 37-year drought by sweeping the 2015 Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Belmont (G1), Justify would make history for the same trainer, Bob Baffert.

The imposing chestnut rewrote the record book as the first unraced juvenile to take the Derby since 1882, defying the “Apollo Curse,” and the first ever to complete the American classic treble after beginning his career at three. Aside from lifting Baffert alongside fellow Hall of Famer “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons as the trainer of two Triple Crown winners, Justify emulated Seattle Slew as the only horses to stay unbeaten through the Crown.

Unfortunately, an ankle issue prevented Justify from enhancing his legacy after the Belmont, or ending his career as American Pharoah did, in a blaze of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) glory. His retirement was announced in late July once connections believed that he could not be prepared in time for the fall championship. Justify, whose career spanned six races over nearly four months, bankrolled $3,798,000.

“We look forward to standing our second Triple Crown winner at Ashford Stud,” said Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier, who was in the Lexington, Kentucky, area all week for the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

“Let’s hope he proves as good as his sire Scat Daddy.”