Sports Gunther sure Justify can win Triple Crown

20:31  17 may  2018
20:31  17 may  2018 Source:   msn.com

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Rob Carr/Getty Images There’s no doubt in Canadian John Gunther ’s mind Justify will capture the American Triple Crown . The impressive three-year-old won a soggy Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5 to improve to 4-0 lifetime.

Justify becomes the 13th Triple Crown winner with the guiding hands of Mike Smith, giving Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown horse in three years.

Related video: Why Kentucky Derby winner Justify is a Triple Crown threat [Provided by USA Today]

There's no doubt in Canadian John Gunther's mind Justify will capture the American Triple Crown.

The impressive three-year-old won a soggy Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5 to improve to 4-0 lifetime. Justify is the early 1-2 favourite for the Preakness on Saturday at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course.

But Gunther, who bred Justify, is convinced the horse will not only win the Preakness but become the 13th horse to capture the Triple Crown, and just the second since 1978.

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Justify is the early 1-2 favourite for the Preakness on Saturday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. But Gunther , who bred Justify , is convinced the horse will not only win the Preakness but become the 13th horse to capture the Triple Crown , and just the second since 1978.

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"What happens is the horses that were beat in the Derby, their trainers and owners don't want to run them in such a short period of time because the Preakness is only two weeks after the Derby," Gunther said. "Also, every time (trainer) Bob Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby and gone to the Preakness, he's won the Preakness every time so the chances of Justify winning are highly favourable.

"The Belmont is three weeks after the Preakness but this horse is bred to get the (1 1/2-mile) distance . . . Put it this way, if he gets into the starting gate for the Preakness and Belmont, I think he'll win the Triple Crown."

a close up of a horse © Provided by thecanadianpress.com

Justify was bred at Glennwood Farm in Versailles, Ky., which is owned by Gunther, of Langley, B.C., and run by his daughter, Tanya. Scat Daddy, a Grade 1 winner, was bred with Stage Magic, a mare owned by Gunther, to produce the eventual Derby champion.

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There’s no doubt in Canadian John Gunther ’s mind Justify will capture the American Triple Crown . The impressive three-year-old won a soggy Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5 to improve to 4-0 lifetime. Justify is the early

There’s no doubt in Canadian John Gunther ’s mind Justify will capture the American Triple Crown . The impressive three-year-old won a soggy Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5 to improve to 4-0 lifetime.

Justify was a US$500,00 Keeneland September yearling purchase by China Horse Club and Maverick Racing. Gunther said Justify looked every bit a champion.

"When Justify was a yearling, he was a big, strong individual with a great walk," Gunther said. "He almost looked like a two-year-old.

"He's like 17 hands high, he's a very big, strong horse and has terrific athletic ability. If you looked at hundreds of yearlings you could see that just by looking at him. He had "it," that was very evident."

Justify is Glennwood Farms' first Derby winner but joins a long list of successful horses bred or co-bred by the operation. Some notables include: First Samurai (Grade 1 winner, $915,075 earnings); Mo Town (co-bred, Grade 1 winner); My Miss Sophia (second '14 Kentucky Oaks); Stay Thirsty (co-bred, Grade 1 winner, $1.936 million earnings); Stevie Wonderboy (co-bred,'05 Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion, $1.059 million); and Tamarkuz ('16 Breeders Cup dirt mile winner, $1.84 million).

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Justify , the undefeated Kentucky Derby champion, will run for the Triple Crown after winning the Preakness Stakes in enveloping fog at Pimlico.

Justify has won the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, becoming the 13th horse in history to win the Triple Crown . Trainer Bob Baffert has now won two Triple Crowns in four years. The 3-year-old colt improved to 6-0 in its racing career that began in February.

Gunther said his daughter puts a lot of time and effort into the matching of stallion to mare.

"She looks at the stallions standing in Kentucky and has studied pedigrees since she was eight or nine," he said. "She delves into that pedigree going back several generations and does the same with the mares.

"She'll spend several hours planning the mating with just one mare and it was her hard work and diligence that picked Scat Daddy to breed to our mare."

Canadian-bred Northern Dancer, who died in 1990 at age 29, is the most prolific stallion ever but Gunther said Scat Daddy, who died in 2015 at age 11, had a very bright future.

"If he was still alive today he'd be the hottest and highest-priced stallion in North America," Gunther said.

Scat Daddy fetched up to $150,000 for stud fees by his death but Glennwood reportedly only paid $35,000 because Tanya Gunther spotted the stallion early.

On May 4, Canadian filly Wonder Gadot was second in the prestigious Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. The horse's breeder, David Anderson of Anderson Farms Ontario Inc., in St. Thomas, Ont., said the Gunthers are deserving of their success.

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Related: From earnings to odds: Justify 's Triple Crown run by the numbers. Baffert said the margin of victory was somewhat misleading. “(Jockey Mike Smith) said he could have won by more,” Baffert said.

Justify is the 36th horse to win both the Derby and the Preakness, but only 12 horses have pulled off the Triple Crown sweep. Yet on a day that began with a royal wedding, Justify sure appeared worthy of a Triple Crown coronation in three weeks’ time.

"John has almost perfected breeding Grade 1 winners and now Kentucky Derby winners," Anderson said. "He and his daughter have done just an exemplary job with a relatively small broodmare band.

"They're a real study of pedigree. They understand it and the proof is in the pudding."

Anderson said much goes into the creation of eventual champion horses.

"The simple one is you breed the best to the best and hope for the best," he said with a chuckle. "But there's raising the animal properly, there's proper nutrition for the mare while the foal is in utero.

"You need to raise your animal on proper farmland and what's the proper hay and water and feed and blacksmiths and vets? There's just so many variables."

A staple of the breeding business is the selling of promising yearlings for top dollar. Therefore, it's imperative the breeder not get too attached to the young horses, although Gunther said that's easier said than done.

"You do get attached, my daughter gets attached," he said. "She's down there, she helps with the foaling and is involved in the raising of them right through to their yearling years so she definitely builds an attachment to them in that process."

Gunther said Justify's success means a lot for Glennwood.

"It does because we own the mare, we own the half-brother who's now a yearling," he said. "All (Stage Magic's) progeny is very valuable at this point.

"The mare is worth a lot of money but I don't plan on selling her."

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