As Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and G1 Preakness Stakes winner Justify attempts to make history by becoming the 13th Triple Crown winner, trainers from Churchill Downs and Santa Anita provided their picks for the 150th running of the G1 Belmont Stakes.
Here is what the Churchill-based trainers had to say:
Phil Bauer – “I think it's a Churchill Downs exacta – Justify and Tenfold.”
“Buff” Bradley – “I liked Hofburg and Good Magic in the Derby so I'll have to think Hofburg will run well in the Belmont. It will obviously be tough to beat Justify.”
Pat Byrne – “Can't Justify any other horse.”
Bret Calhoun – “I don't think anyone will be able to beat Justify. It was interesting looking at the track condition for the Preakness. It sort of seemed like the track was pretty sticky and Bob (Baffert) and Jimmy (Barnes) told me the horses looked exhausted cooling out after the race. However, the way Justify was able to bounce out of that race and train the last few weeks here at Churchill, it showed me he is in great shape for the Belmont.”
Norm Casse – “If Justify doesn't bring his top game, I like Vino Rosso.”
Brad Cox – “I think it's either Justify or Hofburg.”
Tim Glyshaw – “In my opinion, Justify will win. You have to be close to the pace to win 1 ½-mile races and I don't think anyone else can stay close to him.”
Neil Howard – “He just sort of takes your breath away. The way Bob's program is run is phenomenal. Everyone involved is so crucial to getting a horse to compete at the highest level to win the Triple Crown. I love what he's been able to do with Martin Garcia. He knows the horse so well and Bob trusts Martin to give the right feedback while he's on horseback. Martin is a true student of the game and I think that helps make Justify successful.”
Rob O'Connor II – “I certainly wouldn't want to bet against Justify. For all we know, he may not have even liked a wet track. He looked the best horses in the eye in the Preakness and still held them off.”
Dallas Stewart – “You have to go with Justify. In my opinion he's the fastest horse in the race.”
At Santa Anita, trainers from A (Paul Aguirre) to Z (Howard Zucker) all were on board with Justify.
Aguirre, Richard Baltas, Ray Bell, David Bernstein, Jeff Bonde, Jack Carava, James Cassidy, Matt Chew, Phil D'Amato, Caesar Dominguez, Paddy Gallagher, Mark Glatt, Jorge Gutierrez, David Hofmans, Jerry Hollendorfer, Steven Knapp, Brian Koriner, Eric Kruljac, Andrew Lerner, Jeff Metz, Hector Palma, Dean Pederson, Jorge Periban, Gary Sherlock, Gary Stute, Eddie Truman, Kathy Walsh, Tim Yakteen and Zucker all were in support of Justify.
About the only dissenter was Dan Hendricks, who opted for Bill Mott trainee Hofburg.
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