Trainer Bob Baffert arrived in Louisville, Ky. Sunday night and said he loved what he saw while watching Justify (Scat Daddy) train at Churchill Downs Monday morning for the first time since the colt captured the GI Kentucky Derby May 5.
Justify, who will seek to extend his unbeaten streak to 5-for-5 in Saturday’s 143rd GI Preakness S. at Pimlico, jogged to the front of the grandstand under exercise rider Humberto Gomez before turning around for a brisk gallop, picking up the pace throughout.
“I just loved the way he went around there,” said Baffert, who flew back to California the day after the Derby. “He looks no different than he did before the Kentucky Derby, so we’re pretty happy where we are right now. He looks healthy. He didn’t lose an ounce of weight, which is important. That’s one thing about him. The next day [after the Derby] when I brought him out, he was so bright and full of energy, I was pretty impressed myself. Usually, all my Derby winners, it takes them about five days to really snap out of it. But he was pretty sharp the whole time. You can tell by their eyes, their body language that he’s enjoying it out there. He wanted to go faster than the rider [allowed]. That tells me he’s still on ‘go.'”
Baffert said that Justify has been re-shod with a full shoe on his left hind foot and with the hoof adhesive Equilox added. Justify had been training in a “three-quarter” shoe, where the heel end on one side is cut back to alleviate pressure on a bruised area that manifested itself after the Derby.
“Any time you run horses on a wet track, it’s very abrasive, especially that day,” Baffert said. “It burns their heels and that’s when bruised feet come out. I looked at it and said, ‘Start treating it,’ because when you get heat, you’ll get ‘scratches’ or cracked heels. But we jumped on it right away. He looked much better in the afternoon. We deal with these issues constantly in horse racing.”
Baffert added that he would have stayed with Justify in Kentucky if he thought the foot issue was a major problem.
The chestnut is scheduled to fly to Baltimore Wednesday and is expected to van to Louisville International Airport around 10:30 a.m. or shortly thereafter. The Tex Sutton Forwarding Company equine flight is expected to leave about noon and arrive at Baltimore-Washington International Airport about 1:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, champion and Derby runner-up Good Magic (Curlin) became the first horse of the prospective Preakness field to arrive at Pimlico Monday morning. Traveling in a Sallee Horse van, which left New York at 6 a.m., the Chad Brown-trained Good Magic was unloaded at the Pimlico stakes barn at approximately 10:50 a.m.
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Bravazo (Awesome Again) and Sporting Chance (Tiznow) also arrived at Pimlico later in the day.
The lone Preakness probable on the worktab Monday was Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Tenfold (Curlin), who breezed a half-mile in :49 2/5 (14/24) at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen. The homebred was last seen running fifth in the GI Arkansas Derby.
“I thought he moved well–very athletic horse,” Asmussen said. “He’s doing good. As far as timing-wise, I felt [the Preakness] was good for him. I was disappointed with his run in Arkansas, but I think he can move forward from it. Where exactly that puts him with this 3-year-old group is yet to be determined. A very good measuring stick will be Saturday.”