Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Justify 'Floats' In First Trip Over Belmont Surface Thursday

Justify 'Floats' In First Trip Over Belmont Surface Thursday

California-based multiple graded stakes victor Hoppertunity will make his first start in NY since 2016 in the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational, contested at the same 1 ½-mile distance as the Belmont Stakes, on Saturday's star-studded undercard at Belmont Park.

The strapping chestnut colt is the odds-on favorite to complete the series sweep on Saturday in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes following victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

Trainer Bob Baffert is hoping to snag his second Triple Crown in the span of just three years with Justify.

Justify went 1 3/8 miles, keen and eager as he flashed by the grandstand.

"He was just getting over the track really well. He couldn't have looked any better". "He looks like a horse that is flourishing".

Justify will chase immortality on Saturday at Belmont Park as he attempts to become just the 13th horse to win the American Triple Crown - and you're not going to want to miss it.

"Everywhere he's gone, it's like he's been there before", Baffert said. He's out of (the sire) Tapit, and Tapit horses have done very well in the Belmont (winning three of the past four). But Justify may come close.

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"He was a little fresh", said Baffert, who also won the Belmont Stakes with Point Given in 2001. "I couldn't be happier".

Baffert said he omitted the customary ear plugs, which might have put Justify slightly on edge.

"I love horses and I love the people, " said the 64-year-old Mott, who won the Belmont with Drosselmeyer in 2010. Chris Mara is a member of the Starlight Racing group, which owns a stake in Justify.

"Six races is a lot, but we've seen that he thrives on it", said Baffert. "I think he's just kind of tailed off a little bit from his earlier numbers, and I believe that this is just a tad too far for the breeding of the horse". I, personally, will try to beat him.

The soft-spoken Mott says he would nearly prefer to train the horses and send them over to the paddock to race while he stays back at the barn. "I wouldn't throw him out totally". "I'm focusing on if he shows up, if he's good enough, he'll get it done".

The Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman color-bearer also boasts back-to-back victories in the Grade 2 San Antonio in 2016-17 and a half-length win in the 2014 Grade 1 Clark Handicap, among others through five seasons of racing. "It was really nice".

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