Justify arrives at Pimlico to continue Triple Crown quest

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BALTIMORE — Within minutes of their arrival at Pimlico Race Course, Kentucky Derby winner Justify and his trainer circled the stakes barn at a rapid clip.

“He’s going to wear me out!” said Bob Baffert, straining to keep a grip on the strap that kept Justify in check.

Baffert then led Justify to Stall 28, where the chestnut colt finally settled down on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

Preakness Stakes: What Time, Where to Watch and More.

Stall 40, located in the front corner of the stakes barn, is usually reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner. It was there for Baffert if he wanted it, but the white-haired Hall of Fame trainer opted for a cubicle that was far less obtrusive.

“We took it a few” times before, Baffert said. “But it seems to be that the horse isn’t able to relax because it’s right on the corner and you have lookie-loos all day long and they’re snapping the click of the cameras.”

Thus, Stall 28, located midway down shed row.

“It’s quieter, and we want it as quiet as it can be,” Baffert said.

Being at the Preakness is like coming home to Baffert, who won’t shy away from the attention at Churchill Downs but really prefers less of a circus.

“I love this place. It’s my favorite leg of the Triple Crown because it’s a relaxed atmosphere,” Baffert said. “We’re all in here together in the same barn so we get to hang out together. The tension of the Derby is over. We have a Derby winner. It’s a way to celebrate the Derby winner and see who gets the next leg.”

Undefeated in four races, Justify may not have a lot of experience. But he’s got the most important element of a great horse.

“Like that guy we heard on the newsreel about Man o’ War, the essential of a good horse is speed,” Baffert said. “And the main ingredient is more speed, and that’s what he has. We saw that.”

After spending a relaxing week-and-a-half in Louisville following his 2 +-length win over Good Magic in the Derby, Justify was accompanied by Preakness contenders Lone Sailor and Quip on the flight to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Baffert and the horses then traveled to Pimlico by van with a police escort.

“He shipped really well,” Baffert said. “We just walked the shed row this morning because I didn’t want to do too much with him. It looks like he came off the van in great shape and he’s really full of himself. So I could tell, by the way he was dragging me around there, he’s on his game. That’s what you want to see a few days out.”

Justify will face seven challengers in his bid to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has two entrants, Sporting Chance and Bravazo. He knows Baffert has the horse to beat, but he also knows that doesn’t necessary guarantee victory.

“Bob Baffert and I are very close friends, but I’m going to try every way I can to beat him,” Lukas said. “The only thing that worries me is he’s got the best horse.”

22nd horse suffers fatal injuries at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. – A filly broke both front legs at the end of a workout on the main dirt track at Santa Anita and was euthanized on Thursday, becoming the 22nd horse to suffer catastrophic injuries since Dec. 26.

Trainer and owner David Bernstein said the 3-year-old filly named Princess Lili B broke down just past the finish line after a half-mile workout.

Bernstein told KTLA-TV that Princess Lili B apparently took a step as she changed leads, which led to her breaking her left ankle and then her right ankle. A lead change refers to which set of legs, left or right, leads or advances forward when a horse is galloping.

“She was always very sound and we’ve never had a problem with her,” Bernstein said in the interview. “We didn’t have to train her on any medication. She’s just a lovely filly to be around.”

Bernstein said the filly’s exercise rider didn’t indicate any problem with the dirt surface.

“I think it’s one of those things that happens, sadly enough,” the trainer told KTLA.

Bernstein said he wouldn’t hesitate to train another horse on Santa Anita’s surface again.

“I know they’ve done the best job they can possibly do,” he said. “They’re hired a number of great experts to handle this surface.”

Santa Anita had reopened its main track for limited workouts on Monday, with horses limited to jogging and galloping while the surface was monitored for any irregularities that may have caused the deaths of 22 horses since the winter meet began on Dec. 26.

This week’s workouts were the first conducted under the track’s new training protocols, which include two veterinarians observing each horse going to and from the track.

Santa Anita resumes limited training on main dirt track

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Training resumed on Santa Anita’s main dirt track, with horses limited to jogging and galloping while the surface is monitored for any irregularities that may have caused the deaths of 21 horses since December.

Track consultant Dennis Moore says everything went well Monday morning. He says all the testing data supports the decision to allow limited training while racing remains suspended indefinitely.

Moore says if all continues to go well with limited training, timed workouts could resume in the next couple days.

The inner training track has been reopened for timed workouts, with 133 horses being officially clocked for working out at distances ranging from two to six furlongs.

Santa Anita officials say a return to live racing is expected “in the near future.”