Possibility of Justify in Classic has Breeders' Cup officials excited

Possibility of Justify in Classic has Breeders' Cup officials excited
The possibility of a Justify run at the Breeders' Cup Classic has the Commonwealth excited. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The 2018 Breeders' Cup has been set for November 2 and 3. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The 2018 Breeders' Cup has been set for November 2 and 3. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - With Justify taking the Triple Crown and the upcoming Breeders' Cup coming back to Churchill Downs this fall, there's a lot of excitement in horse racing. Fans may have a chance to see Justify a few more times at the historic track.

Saturday June 16, he'll be paraded and celebrated with a victory tour on the track where he won the Kentucky Derby, and Breeders' Cup Officials said they're very excited about the possibility of him running again at Churchill in November.

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If superstar Justify stays healthy, he may run in the Classic, when the sport's most prestigious two-day racing event comes back to Churchill Downs for 9th time. In the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic, fans witnessed American Pharoah grab the first Grand Slam in horse racing history.

"It just elevates the event to another level," Peter Rotondo, Vice President of Media and Entertainment for the Breeders' Cup, said.

The sentiment was echoed by his colleagues.

"It really just adds that extra excitement and people are so supportive of horse racing in this area anyway," Jill Byrne, Director of Industry Relations for the Breeders' Cup, said. "But Justify - it's the big name."

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From casual race fans to celebrities, the enthusiasm for Justify has spread across the Commonwealth.

"That's history," University of Kentucky Men's Basketball Coach John Calipari told WAVE 3 News on the backside Wednesday.

Just as Coach Cal and his team wanted to get up close and personal with the champ, everyone wants to see Justify.

"I told them on the bus, you take that individual picture and you'll be able to look back on that and people are going to say 'you were right next to that horse?'" Calipari said of his team's experience with the Triple Crown winner.

The possibility of a second Triple Crown winner in play for the Classic has gotten Breeders' Cup officials pumped. More excitement means more eyes on screens and more fans on the property.

"We're looking at a 30 percent increase if he could show up," Rotondo said. "Which would be huge and obviously we want to celebrate the Triple Crown winner at the Breeders' Cup."

Fans from all over the world will also get to see big changes in all the new renovations at Churchill Downs. There have also been changes in Breeders' Cup race times.

"For the first time, we're going to run all of the Juvenile Races for the two-year-olds on Friday called Future Stars Friday," Rotondo explained.

The Juvenile Winner produces next year's early Kentucky Derby favorite. The Juvenile Fillies produce the early Kentucky Oaks favorite.

Another change - the Classic won't be run under the lights at Churchill; the race will instead go off around 5:45 Eastern Standard Time.

"We love being back at Churchill Downs," Rotondo said. "So we think running it at 5:45 will give people some time afterwards to make their plans. And it's November so maybe you don't want to be so late in the night."

The earlier race time gives fans plenty of time for dinner or parties after the Classic. There will also be plenty of public events and parties to enjoy.

The Breeders' Cup Festival began in Lexington in 2015. This year in Louisville, it promises to be bigger than ever. It kicks off with Equestricon, a fan convention the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Breeders' Cup to kick off the week. There are also events at 4th Street Live! every night and several other events are being finalized.

The 2018 Breeders' Cup has been set for November 2 and 3.

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