It’s been a few weeks since the fog cleared coming out of the Preakness Stakes, but everything coming out of Justify’s camp is brimming with both confidence and positivity. The Triple Crown hopeful heads in to the 2018 Belmont Stakes appearing rested, recovered and relaxed. This is all part and parcel of any training done ahead of a major race, but the stakes are high for the sport considering what’s on the line.
Jockey Martin Garcia trained aboard Justify recently and had nothing but good things to say. “Martin said he didn’t even take a deep breath,” Baffert quipped without a worry in his tone. “All seems good.”
The 2018 Belmont Stakes will be no easy ride for Justify. The 1 1/2 mile distance alone is brutal as it is, but he’ll have veritable threats like Audible and Bravazo. As you’d expect, everything coming from the connections of those horses is equally positive. But the focus remains on Justify simply because a Triple Crown championship is actually on the line, so horse players, fans and bookmakers are eager to here of anything that might cause the expected favorite to take a step back.
His recent work, however, yielded no such concern. “He went a little quick last time so I wanted to go three quarters with him,” said Baffert. “Just kept him in hand the whole way and let him gallop out seven-eighths. He went smooth and he relaxed nice. Last time he was a little bit fresh I think and really wanted to do a little bit more. But Martin was happy with him.”
Martin Garcia will cede the saddle to regular rider Mike Smith this coming weekend in the 2018 Belmont Stakes.
The inclusion of a Triple Crown winner is what makes the 2018 Belmont Stakes so compelling. We haven’t had this kind of treat on the table since American Pharoah ripped the roof off of the grandstands during his monumentous 2015 victory. Justify winning this weekend wouldn’t be as historically impressive, but would very much signal a grand uptick in the productivity of breeding, Thoroughbred racing and bring a lot of eyes (and action) towards a sport that needs as much as possible spread throughout its ranks.
The 2018 Belmont Stakes is Saturday, June 9th and will be televised online Twinspires TV and nationally on cable through NBC.