Louisville, KY (WAVE) - Big Blue invaded the backside of Churchill Downs on Wednesday afternoon. The Cats came to visit Triple Crown champ Justify.
"Seeing it and being there in person and being around all of that was amazing," John Calipari said. He and his son Brad were at Belmont Park on Saturday as Justify cruised home in the Belmont Stakes.
"It's history and it may not happen in another 30 years, so I just wanted them to come down and see it, it's a big horse now," Calipari said.
A total of 10 UK players filed off of a bus next to barn 33 on a sweltering afternoon. They greeted Winstar Farm president and CEO Elliott Walden and then Calipari presented Walden with a Justify #13 UK jersey. Justify is the 13th Triple Crown winner.
Calipari was the first to pet to the chestnut champ.
"What we're trying to do every year we play is make history and the talent, them seeing that this may not happen again for 34 years, it may, it may not, and I told them on the bus, you take that individual picture and you are going to be able to look back and people are going to say, 'you were right next to that horse?' That's like American Pharoah, Secretariat," Calipari told his team.
Justify did bite UK strength and conditioning coach Rob Harris, a point of pride.
"Great athlete, beautiful animal, piece of history," said Cats associate head coach Kenny Payne. Payne was on the bus for most of the visit, but did get a picture with Justify in the barn.
"That's one of the opportunities that we get with Justify," Walden said, "another great opportunity is going to be Saturday night. I hope the fans come out to see him. It's not very often you get to see a horse parade after he's won the Triple Crown."
Justify will parade at Churchill Downs during the night racing card on Saturday and then return to California on Sunday.