Turns out that sometimes being put out to pasture is a good thing.
Case in point, Triple Crown winner Justify who retired from racing Wednesday and can now rest on his laurels.
So long as he doesn’t put too much weight on his left front ankle.
That’s because trainer Bob Baffert and Justify's owners said there’s some caution over the fluid in that ankle that 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.
So Justify retires with his perfect record in tact—winning all six career starts—and 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."
Wow—if horses could read, something tells me Justify’s ego would be as swollen as that ankle.