Video footage of Kentucky Derby winner Justify on Sunday morning appeared to show the colt favoring his left hind leg, but trainer Bob Baffert told the Paulick Report there is no cause for concern.
According to Baffert, reached by telephone on Sunday afternoon, Justify has a fairly common condition known as “scratches” below the pastern of his left hind ankle. The condition – called “mud fever” by some – is characterized by an irritation of the skin above the hoof, almost like chapped lips in a person. It is caused by constant wetting and over-drying of the skin, which allows various microorganisms to invade microscopic cracks in the skin and multiply.
After his trip over the wet, muddy going at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Justify's condition was slightly irritated on Sunday morning.
“It's an irritation behind the pastern,” Baffert explained. “It got real soft and wet and irritated. We keep them done up in the back and he wasn't done up yet. When he walked on that gravel it irritated him.”
Baffert reported that the “minor” irritation will not cost Justify any training time, and that he expects the colt to make the Preakness Stakes in two weeks' time. The condition is being treated with Furacin, a topical ointment.
“A lot of horses have it,” Baffert said. “It comes and goes but it's the kind of thing we deal with. It happens to a lot of them.
“He actually looked unbelievable this morning,” Baffert said of Justify, his fifth Kentucky Derby winner in 23 years. “Too bad I walked him on gravel.”
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