(Holly M. Smith was there to capture this beautiful photo as soon as Justify was led off the van by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes)
As we first reported after the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, it has now been confirmed:
The grand Justify — freshly minted winner of racing’s Triple Crown — will make a guest appearance at Churchill Downs this Saturday night. The 3-year-old colt, who won the Belmont Stakes in style last Saturday, has been stabled at Bob Baffert’s regular hideout on the backside of Churchill Downs since he travelled her after winning the Santa Anita Derby earlier this year.
After he won the Kentucky Derby, Justify trained at Churchill Downs leading up to the Preakness. Immediately after winning the Preakness, the colt was returned to his digs at Churchill Downs and trained up to the Belmont Stakes. Immediately after winning the Belmont, he was once again shipped back to Louisville.
We reported on the scene Monday we the big “red-headed” Justify was back in town, along with his side kick “Sunny.”
Here is the official press release by Churchill Downs, the greatest racing home for the last two Triple Crown winners:
The first race Saturday is 6 p.m. and the 11-race card will showcase five lucrative stakes events, including the prestigious $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
The precise timing of Saturday night’s parade and schedule of events will be finalized Wednesday afternoon, butWinStar Farm LLC’s President/CEO and Racing Manager Elliott Walden and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert gave track officials a green light for the public ceremony on Tuesday. The parade will include a walkover on the main track and a visit to the track’s paddock and Woodford Reserve Winner’s Circle.
NBCSN will broadcast live action from Churchill Downs on Saturday night from 8:30-10 p.m. Also, Horse Racing Radio Network will air coverage on 93.9 The Ville in Louisville and Sirius/XM 93from 8-10 p.m.
A public appearance by Justify adds to an already dynamic evening.
Justify’s connections – ownersWinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners; Baffert; Hall of Fame jockeyMike Smith; and breeder John Gunther – will be on-hand Saturday to receive their engraved Kentucky Derby 144 trophies. Guests in attendance Saturday will be able to take pictures with the trophies beforehand from 5-7 p.m.
Also, the first 5,000 fans in attendance Saturday will receive a free commemorative print of Justify that celebrates his Triple Crown achievement.
The theme for Saturday night’s Downs After Dark is “Art of the Horse” and guests are encouraged to dress in pastels and bright colors to fit the art theme and summer weather. Churchill Downs, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and Louisville Visual Art have partnered to create a Breeders’ Cup Artwork Exhibit, which includes an opportunity for one local artist to be showcased as the Official Artist of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Five finalists will have their artwork on display in the Plaza on Saturday and guests may vote for their favorite.
The evening’s entertainment includes music on the Plaza Stage courtesy of Free Soul Effect and Mojo Flo.
Entries and post positions for Saturday’s races will be finalized Wednesday, but some of horse racing’s top stars are expected to compete. Both the Stephen Foster Handicap and the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) are part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series. The winners of the Foster and Fleur de Lis will be assured berths in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff starting gates, respectively, on Nov. 2-3 at Churchill Downs.
Other stakes on the card are the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16miles on turf; the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and the $100,000 Regret Stakes (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Admission gates will open Saturday at 5 p.m. General admission is $10, box seats are $25 and reserved dining packages are $73. All ticket options can be purchased online at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.