JUSTIFY (c, Scat Daddy-Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing & WinStar Farm. B- John D. Gunther (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales history: $500,000 yrl KEESEP ’16. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $66,000.
Mar. 6 TDN Top 12 Rank: N/A
Last Start: 1st Allowance Optional Claiming, SA, Mar. 11.
Next Start: Uncommitted
Kentucky Derby Points: 0
New addition to the Top 12 Justify qualifies both as a “now” horse and a “wow” horse. This $500,000 KEESEP Scat Daddy colt is undefeated in two starts after shredding a two-turn Santa Anita allowance field on Sunday. This ‘TDN Rising Star’ has earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in both starts to date, a 104 followed by a 101, and Sunday’s effort only rates slower because he was torqued down substantially at the finish after drilling his competition. He’s hardly battle-hardened yet, but consider that this Bob Baffert trainee has already shifted adroitly from sprinting to routing, handled an equipment change (blinkers off), and has proven ability both on a fast, dry track and a sealed muddy surface–all in just a touch more than three weeks since his debut. And yes, it’s a classic case of “recency bias” in the pari-mutuel marketplace to see how he closed on Sunday at 6-1 as the most heavily bet individual horse in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (the “all others” field was favored at 4-1). But it’s also an indication that the betting public isn’t so keen on the contenders who’ve been listed with established 2-year-old form, giving some credence to the theory that we’ve yet to witness the top of the crop. An April Derby prep race will be this undefeated prospect’s next stepping stone to Louisville.