Newly minted Triple Crown champion Justify saw his stud value skyrocket with his gate-to-wire victory Belmont Stakes. The muscle on muscle chestnut three-year old colt with a big white blaze joined Seattle Slew as the only undefeated Triple Crown winners and became the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown comprised of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9.
ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell reported the Belmont Stakes (Grade-1) victory pushed the value of Triple Crown winner Justify to an all-time record $75 million.
ESPN and the New York Times previously reported after the Preakness that an agreement was in place for the owners of Justify's breeding rights – WinStar Farm with 60 percent, China Horse Club with 25 percent, and George Soros' SF Bloodstock with 15 percent – to sell them to Coolmore Stud for $60 million with a $15-million bonus if the son of Scat Daddy were to win the Belmont.
WinStar Farm CEO Elliott Walden has denied that a deal has been made. The New York Times said that it may not be official until September so that Justify's owners can take advantage of tax laws dealing with capital gains. Rovell writes that Coolmore can put a higher value on Justify than other stud farms because it has the capacity to stand the superstar at both its Ashford Stud in Kentucky and in Australia during the southern Hemisphere breeding season. WinStar has stood some of its stallions in the southern Hemisphere but does not own a stud farm in Australia. The highest previous stallion deal, Rovell writes, was the $70 million Coolmore paid to acquire 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
The son of Scat Daddy is expected to continue racing this summer with his racing schedule to be laid out in the next few weeks. Once retired, Justify could demand an initial $100,000 stud fee — giving him a $60 million value based solely on breeding fees if he were to cover 150 mares per breeding season for four years. Depending on the racing performances of his offspring, this value could rise even higher.
Justify is a perfect six for six this year, an impressive feat for a colt who entered trainer Bob Baffert's barn shortly after the Breeders' Cup races last November. He fetched $500,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2016 and started racing just 113 days before the Belmont. Baffert joined "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons as the only trainers to saddle two Triple Crown winners. American Pharoah captured the Triple Crown in 2015. Baffert has conditioned more winners in Triple Crown races (15) than anyone.
“He's in that private, special club, the Triple Crown, and he established himself as one of the greats,” said Baffert. “The thing about him I cannot believe (is) the way he walked in the paddock (before the Belmont). He left the stable barn and I was watching the other horses and they were all skittish and he walked up there just like King Kong. He knew, like he'd been there. He's really intelligent and a smart, smart horse and he knows when to turn it on.”
Motion ‘Springs’ Another Manhattan Upset
George Strawbridge, Jr.'s homebred Spring Quality (18-1) stormed down the stretch on the far outside to get up at the wire by a neck over Sadler's Joy in the $1 Million Woodford Reserve Manhattan (Grade-1) over the firm 1 1/4 mile turf course on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes on June 9. In just his second start of the 2018 season the six-year old son of Quality Road pushed his record to 6-3-0 from 11 starts. Spring Quality was bred in Pennsylvania out of the Deputy Minister mare Spring Star.
Coming out of post 13, the bay horse bided his time near the back on the inside hedge. Turning for home Hello Don Julio held the lead followed by Hi Happy and Manitoulin, with Spring Quality gearing up out in the center of the track. Rolling on the far outside the gelding nipped Grade-1 winner Sadler’s Joy and Hi Happy in a blanket finish.
"The one thing we had to do was save ground; that was the most important thing," said trainer Graham Motion, who also won the 2007 Manhattan with the late 2004 GI Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Better Talk Now. "We saved ground on the first turn and I loved where he was down the backside. He had to swing a little wide coming off the bend, but he's really special. How about two years in a row, winning this race with a long shot? It’s pretty crazy.”
Motion triumphed in the 2017 edition of the Manhattan with Ascend at 27-1.
"He broke OK and I was able to tuck right in and save some ground most of the turn,” said Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado. “When I asked him, he kicked right in. You look at the program (post 13), but when the gate opened, everything changed. I was able to tuck in.”
It marked the first Grade-1 victory of Spring Quality's career in his first try at the highest level of racing for the Augustin Stable runner. The winner's purse of $535,000 increased his career earnings to $860,797 with his only other graded stakes win the Grade-3 Red Smith Handicap last November at Aqueduct Racetrack. In his most recent outing Spring Quality finished second to Robert Bruce in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 5 at Belmont.