(The great and grand Justify)
The skeptics (blush) said it loudly and often. It could not be done. It won’t be done. Not on this watch. Not in this time.
After all, the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby without having made a single start as a 2-year-old was a gelding by the name of Apollo. And, that came way, way, way back in 1882.
That is 1-8-8-2, mind you.
Times have changed. Training has changed. Horses have changed. Churchill Downs has changed. Nearly everything in the world has changed.
But the “Apollo Curse” had remained.
Until trainer Bob Baffert brought to town a towering, chestnut colt by the name of Justify.
Until Justify took Louisville and the Kentucky Derby by storm, and a lightning-strike bolt of a run.
The “Apollo Curse” be damned — 136 years was enough.
Justify certainly was enough to snap the Apollo Curse.
Not only did Justify win the Kentucky Derby, the big, strapping colt — who got a special visit from Baffert’s “special” farrier after the Derby and an even “more special” horseshoe for the rest of his racing career — went on to capture the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes to become the 13th winner of the prestigious Triple Crown.
Justify also gave Baffert his second Triple Crown winner, joining American Pharoah in that elite company.
After racing just six times — and winning six times — Justify was retired and joined American Pharoah, literally this time, at Coolmore America’s Stallion operation at Ashford Stud in Versailles, KY.
It was not a long race career.
Yet, it was a very special one.
By a very special horse.
Here is Holly’s Looks:
(Justify now standing at Coolmore America)
(Justify was all business the week before the KY Derby)
(A scenic view of Justify headed to the Churchill Downs’ track the week of the Kentucky Derby)
(Whether it be in black or white, or in living color, Justify had an eye for the dramatic, and for the historic)