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  • 1 month later...

This sucks. 


Triple Crown winner Justify was retired from racing Wednesday because of fluid in his left front ankle.

Trainer Bob Baffert and Justify's owners said caution over the horse's ankle condition made it impossible to tell whether he'd be healthy enough to race by the fall.

"He is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign," Baffert said. "We all wanted to see Justify run again, but ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60-90 days, I can't be definite."

The goal was for Justify to run in a major race this summer, likely the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, and be pointed toward the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. Instead, he was taken out of training earlier this month because of swelling in his ankle.

"The timing is bad for another start in 2018, and therefore, we have to retire him," said Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, which co-owns Justify. "Like [2015 Triple Crown winner] American Pharoah, we can't take the risk of running Justify as a 4-year-old. We all wanted him to finish his career in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but it was not meant to be."

Justify won all six career starts, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to capture the Kentucky Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old. He won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the 13th Triple Crown winner and second in the past four years after Baffert's American Pharoah.

"There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat," jockey Mike Smith said. "There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him."

In addition to the Triple Crown, the Kentucky-bred Justify won the Santa Anita Derby and retires with career earnings of almost $3.8 million.

"It has been a great ride for all of us, and I have complete confidence Bob is doing the right thing by Justify," said Teo Ah Khing of China Horse Club, which is also a co-owner.

Walden said it's possible Justify's stud rights will be sold to Coolmore but added that it won't be finalized until a later date. Justify is expected to return to WinStar Farm in Kentucky next month.

"Justify's extraordinary racing career -- from maiden to Triple Crown winner in less than four months -- was as brilliant as any our sport has seen," National Thoroughbred Racing Association president and CEO Alex Waldrop said. "We can't wait to have his first runners hit the track in 2022."


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  • 3 months later...
  • 5 months later...

Full disclosure- I’m no expert, just a degenerate gambler. But I do an immense amount of study for this race scouring over the PP sheets and watching every prep race multiple times with a focus on each individual horse and his performance. I’m merely throwing this out there for those of you who don’t have time to dive deeply into it or those that simply want to compare notes.

For those new to the Derby: It’s incredibly hard to handicap because there is no other race like it. The field is huge, every horse has done something impressive, and none of them have ever run this distance yet. Add in the weather, size of the crowd, and a week of paparazzi, and it’s no wonder there’s money to be made every single year, even when the favorite wins. (An anomalous five-year streak we won’t worry about.)

Here’s what I’m gleaning after careful study of the PP sheets and watching all the prep races multiple times with a discerning eye on every horse.

Maximum Security- The knock on him is lack of experience and a perceived easier competition. I’m more convinced by 4-0-0 lifetime with margins of 3, 6, 9, and 18 lengths. One writer wondered if he was “a freak or the path was too easy.” Watch the Fla Derby and see how he never lets Bodexpress into the race. Saez hand rides him until mid-stretch, but every time the horses behind try to desperately move, Max just edges on more. Perky eared and alert, this is a horse with a heart to win.

Tacitus- He’s shown now that he can rate back (Tampa Derby) or stay with the pace setter (Wood) and win either way. His speed index just gets faster and faster with each race (103 at Aquaduct impressive) He’s just better than Tax in the Wood. No doubt. He also has the fastest  mile 1/16 race time in the field. Can he go the distance and win?

By My Standards- He appears to be peaking at the right time. Finally broke the 100 speed index in a hard fought, impressive victory in the LA Derby which might have been the best of the Derby preps. Gritty and tough, he’s one of the 10 in the field who has never finished outside the money.  His workouts have reportedly been eye popping this week and he’s earning the label of the Wise Guy horse. History is rarely on the side of the Wise Guy horse to win, but he’s a battler for sure.

Win Win Win- Better to be lucky than good, right? WWW has been incredibly unlucky in his last two races with almost nightmarish trips in the Tampa Bay and Blue Grass. Bumps, clips, stumbles, cut off in the turn, cut off at the stretch. And he still closed like a freight train in each one to grab 3rd and 2nd in impressive style. He blew past four horses down the stretch of the Blue Grass like they were standing still. He’s got the pedigree on both sire and dam. It’s a tough run from the 14 hole, but if his luck has turned he can be in the mix.

Improbable- Oddly enough, the Baffert horse that I think has the best chance is the one people are talking about the least. Three wins and two seconds by a combined length and a neck (one of those to the now scratched Omaha who would have been at the top of this list).  He’s got probably the most beautiful long stride of any of the horses in the field. Silky. He’s made his living off of trailing the pace setter and then striking late. That’s a tall task in a 20 horse field. He’ll need a clean break and more endurance than ever.

Roadster and Game Winner- They are pretty interchangeable. Should be 1 and 1A. Game winner has slightly better speed figures. Roadster has slightly better record lately. Not good enough to make two-time Derby jockey winner Mike Smith think he can win riding him though. And they are traveling from way outside. People are knocking Max Security for lack of quality, but the Santa Anita was really not very impressive with a pedestrian 1:51 in a six horse field. The odds will be too deflated with the “Baffert effect” on these two horses while running from the dreaded 15 and beyond position. It takes very special horses (think American Pharaoh) to win from there. Neither of them has looked “special.”

Vekoma- A perplexing horse that looks like he’s crippled. That front left leg kicks out wide and you wonder if he’s going to fall down. He’s posted some nice speed figures, though. Faced good competition. Always in the money. And yet, he seems like the horse you should leave out. Or the one you will kick yourself for leaving out of your exotics.

Tax- Speed. Speed. Speed. Unfortunately this race is also endurance, endurance, endurance. Ask Tacitus.

War of Will- Would have, could have, should have. Injury in the LA derby. Never topped 100 in speed index. Hard to believe that damaged goods can recover in time to do any damage here.

The others:

Long Range Toddy, Spinoff, Country House – too far outside and not enough performance to even consider.

Code of Honor- Can he spoil things? Not with a 95 as his best speed and so inconsistent.

Haikal- You want a long shot? This is it. He waits and waits and waits. It’s a dangerous game in the Derby. But he is THE closer in the field. If you want to play a big tri or super box, he must be in it.

Everyone else? Good horses that will be over matched.

I'll post my picks before I head down to Retama.

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On 5/1/2019 at 11:52 PM, SKA the boss said:

Haikal- You want a long shot? This is it. He waits and waits and waits. It’s a dangerous game in the Derby. But he is THE closer in the field. If you want to play a big tri or super box, he must be in it.

Scratched this morning.  The most interesting thing about that is it moves Game Winner to the 14 stall.  This has been a terrible spot the past few years with the runners in the auxiliary gate crashing to their left as hard as they can to save ground.  The only silver lining is that Roadster is also a Baffert horse and he will be in the 15 spot, so he may be told to try to avoid crossing over Game Winner’s path.  

***Edit: I didn’t realize that they are just shifting everyone outward instead of inward.  Game Winner is still in post 15.***

I am probably going to bet on Maximum Security to win, and then throw in a tri.  Good luck to everyone!

Edited by IPoopOnWhoop
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I put numbers from the past 6 years into a spreadsheet to do some analyzing. The last 5 winners had an E/P running style, 4 of them had an early speed points of 7 and the other one had a 5.

2018    Justify    E/P    7
2017    Always Dreaming    E/P    7
2016    Nyquist    E/P    5
2015    American Pharoah    E/P    7
2014    California Chrome    E/P    7
2013    Orb    P    2

4 of the last 6 winners had a top 2 Prime Power Rank.

2018    Justify    153.1    2
2017    Always Dreaming    142.1    14
2016    Nyquist    148.7    2
2015    American Pharoah    154.4    2
2014    California Chrome    153.1    1
2013    Orb    147.1    7

Looking for similar horses:

Vekoma has #1 Prime Power Rank and an E/P 6 running style.

Game Winner has #2 Prime Power Rank and E/P 2 running style.

Maximum Security has #10 Prime Power Rank and E/P 7 running style.


Vekoma at 20+ to 1 odds seems to be a must play with a good post position. I really like Game Winner, but would like a better post position and a higher early speed points. Maximum Security has the right running style, but is he good enough? He is another with a good post position.

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I think he is on the improve. But I don’t know if he gets the distance. I like him ok but don’t love him. He was a b horse my betting partner likes him much more than me but I do think the pace will set up for him. We are trying to hit some big numbers so we are pretty scattered I would not be surprised by any of about 12 horses to win

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i like game winner, tacitus and roadster -- i'm picking game winner.
late runners who can get up into the bottom of the exotics: by my standards, code of honor, win win win.

If I had to pick a tri without concern about odds. This is very close. Just don’t think it will pay
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