Trainer Bob Baffert (second from right) and assistant Jimmy Barnes (far right) inspect Triple Crown contender Justify at Belmont Park

Trainer Bob Baffert (second from right) and assistant Jimmy Barnes (far right) inspect Triple Crown contender Justify at Belmont Park

Rick Samuels

Justify Puts in Final Training Session for Belmont

Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner galloped 1 1/2 miles June 8.

The mood at Barn 1 June 8, after Justify put in his final bit of work in preparation for the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1), was noticeably light.

The work is done, and all that remains is the race. The confidence the colt's connections have was quite apparent Friday morning.

Trainer Bob Baffert was in a particularly good mood as he joked with his brother, Bill Baffert, in front of a small group of assembled media about their years growing up in Nogales, Ariz.

"We were 14, 15 years old—cross the (border), have a Tom Collins, come back," Bob Baffert joked.

"They were good, too," Bill Baffert said. "The border was just like this—a little fence. And the customs guys all knew you."

The way the chestnut son of Scat Daddy has performed following his Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) victories has seemingly put everyone in the Baffert barn at ease, and his 1 1/2-mile gallop over the Belmont Park main track Friday did nothing to change the mood.


"We got the last gallop in," Baffert said. "Just another smooth, good day. ... Coming off the track, he was just full of himself. He just seems like he's still improving. He looks like he's ready to run. I know he's going to show up and run his race, but he still has to get around there.

"The racing part is out of our control. I couldn't be happier with the way he looks. He looks no different than the way American Pharoah  did coming in here. So we'll just have to see how it goes."

For a multi-stakes card on a warm Friday in Elmont, N.Y., some key scratches have come in.

In the Bed o' Roses Invitational Stakes (G3), Ivy Bell, Chalon, and Union Strike have all been withdrawn. Last-out Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) winner American Gal will run in the seven-furlong sprint instead of the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) Saturday (she was cross-entered), according to trainer Simon Callaghan.

The fields for the Tremont Stakes and New York Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2T) are intact as of 11:50 a.m. EDT, but Joking and Limousine Liberal (cross-entered in the grade 1 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Saturday) were scratched from the True North Stakes (G2), and Run Time and Focus Group were withdrawn from the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G2T).