Elmont, New York (WAVE) - Justify continues to clear hurdles on his way to the Triple Crown.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champ took his first trip around the mile and a half oval at Belmont Park on Thursday morning.
"He was a little fresh, he worked Monday, he walked Tuesday and then he shipped yesterday, but he looked great at the barn and I couldn't be happier," trainer Bob Baffert said.
Justify was led to the track by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes and a pony, and once he was cut loose, he took off. Jogging a mile and 3/8th's at a brisk pace. He appeared to like the sandy surface.
"He just looked like he was just really getting over it really well," Baffert said. "He looked like he was happy. He was aggressive. He was a little fresh today, but he couldn't have looked any better today coming around there and I was just happy that he was just, he looks like a horse that is really flourishing, doing really well, so I was very happy with the way he trained today."
Baffert has already won the Triple Crown once. In his fourth attempt, he won with American Pharoah in 2015. That was after coming up short with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002.
"I think with Pharoah, after he won, it was more of, well, it can be done, you know, we've seen so many of these good horses just get beat," Baffert said, when asked to compare his mindset heading into Saturday, adding, "Actually I'm enjoying this one a little bit more because on Pharoah, we knew he was training really well, but still, there's that doubt, you know, can it be done?"
It has been done 12 times, but only once by an undefeated horse, Seattle Slew in 1977.
Jean Crugeot rode Seattle Slew and will be at Belmont Park on Saturday to see if Justify can match the feat.
"If he comes out clean, I think he'll win, but he's no Seattle Slew," Crugeot said.
History will have something to say about that, but only if Justify makes some here on Saturday.