Justify Romps Again, Sets Sights on Derby

5th at SA , Msw, $56,000 (1m)Winner: Justify, c, 3 by Scat Daddy

Justify | Benoit

Justify, made a no-brainer ‘TDN Rising Star’ off a scintillating debut win at Santa Anita, had no issues stretching out to two turns Sunday and likely put himself firmly on the path to the GI Kentucky Derby with a breathtakingly easy allowance score. Blitzing an overwhelmed field of maidens by 9 1/2 lengths with an eye-popping 104 Beyer here Feb. 18, the $500,000 KEESEP grad understandably took all the money to be 1-20 in this first try against winners.

Off a half-step slowly from his outside draw, the chestnut was three wide around the clubhouse turn and traveled in the second flight behind sharp splits of :22.42 and :45.10. Suddenly sweeping past the pacesetter at the five-sixteenths pole, he kicked well clear into the lane and wasn’t asked for a stitch of run the rest of the way, coasting under the wire 6 1/2 lengths to the good. Shivermetimbers (Shanghai Bobby) was second-best.

“That [acceleration] came so natural,” said winning jockey Mike Smith. “He switched leads and naturally opened up his stride and was two in front. I was like, ‘wow.’ I didn’t ask him to move, he just did that extremely easily. He came off that turn like it was a stroll. Just very, very impressed I hate to compare him to other horses right now, but doesn’t he remind you of an Easy Goer way back in the day. Just a big ol’ red horse with a big, powerful stride. The distance didn’t seem to bother him. I know that was just a mile, but he could have galloped out another quarter of a mile if he had to.”

5th-SA, $56,000, Alw (NW1$X)/Opt. Clm ($75,000), 3-11, 3yo, 1m, 1:35.73, my.
JUSTIFY (c, 3, Scat Daddy–Stage Magic {GSP, $133,981}, by Ghostzapper) Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $66,000. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing, WinStar Farm; B-John D. Gunther (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $500,000 Ylg ’16 KEESEP.

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