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“A Beast From Day One”

Rick Hammerle has been racing secretary during Santa Anita for
15 years and was stakes coordinator during Monmouth Park for 12 years, and he
thought he had listened everything. That is until one day in mid-February of this
year. Hammerle had carded a seven-furlong lass competition for 3-year-olds, and Bob
Baffert walked into his bureau to make certain that a competition was going to fill. It
had to.

Baffert had a first-time starter named Justify entered in
the competition and tender on Hammerle a significance of that competition going. Baffert
seems to have a equine in each lass race, so why, Hammerle thought, was this
particular one so important? That’s when Baffert forsaken a bombshell on him.

“I got a equine in there that can win a Kentucky Derby.” he

What? Hammerle was floored when he listened that. Baffert at
the time had 3 of a heading 3-year-olds in a nation in McKinzie,
Mourinho, and Solomini, all vital stakes horses, and he’s revelation Hammerle in
mid-February that he can win a Kentucky Derby with a equine who had never

“I have seen lot of good horses over a years, and I’d
never listened anything like that before,” Hammerle said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God,
the concern of that statement.’ we had never even listened anyone contend that about a
horse going into a Santa Anita Derby, never mind a first-time starter going
into a lass competition in February. It was unbelievable.”

As usual, Baffert knew usually how absolute of an explosive
device he was about to detonate, as Justify had jaws dropping with his 9
3/4-length frisk in a peppery 1:21 4/5, earning a whopping 104 Beyer speed
figure. No 3-year-old had run that quick a series in a stakes race.

“After that race, remembering Bob’s words, we knew he was
going to win a Derby,” Hammerle said.

A content to Baffert a brief while after seeking him accurately what
we were traffic with, brought a standard obvious three-word response, yet one
that resonated via a Derby track and a Derby Dozen: “Breathes
different air.”

No some-more was indispensable to be said. Baffert had recently launched
two rockets, American Pharoah and Arrogate, into a luminary stratosphere, so
when he uses difference like that to report a juvenile fresh equine who had
never even run in a stakes competition and who didn’t even make it to a races until
February 18, they can be deafening.

Two and a half months and an stipend frisk and a Santa
Anita Derby feat later, Baffert’s difference to Hammerle amazingly became
reality, as Justify splashed by a Churchill Downs spill to better what
was regarded as one of a deepest and many gifted Kentucky Derby fields of
all time. And he did it by apropos usually a second equine in 103 years to win
the Run for a Roses with usually 3 lifetime starts and a initial equine since
1882 to win yet carrying raced as a 2-year-old. With a call of Baffert’s
magic wand, Justify finished a ghost of Apollo that had been unresolved over the
Kentucky Derby like an meaningful hide for 136 years disappear forever.

So where did this powerhouse of a racehorse with a overwhelming
physical participation come from? Three years progressing he was romping about the
fields of John D. Gunther’s Glennwood Farm outward Versailles, Kentucky
alongside another colt, after to be named Vino Rosso. Gunther and his daughter
Tanya, who skeleton all a matings, couldn’t trust it when Justify won the
Santa Anita Derby and Vino Rosso won a Wood Memorial an hour and a half

John, who is from Canada, goes to Kentucky 6 or seven
times a year and stays for a week to 10 days, withdrawal Tanya to “micromanage”
the farm.

“Tanya knows when a H2O buckets are half empty,” John
said. “She’s been doing pedigrees by palm given she was 8 or 9 years old.”

It was Tanya who assured her father to multiply their mare
Stage Magic to Scat Daddy, who was famous some-more as a weed sire.

“Tanya fell in adore with Scat Daddy, who was station for
$35,000 during a time,” John said. “No one knew most about him. She talked me
into tact to him.”

Justify came into a universe on Mar 28, 2015, usually hours
after a Gunthers had scored an unusual double when dual horses they bred,
Tamarkuz and Materiality, prisoner a Godolphin Mile in Dubai and after in the
day a Florida Derby, respectively.

“Then along comes this colt while we were still perplexing to
get a heads around a contingency of carrying dual horses bred and lifted during Glennwood
winning these prestigious races on conflicting sides of a universe on a same
day,” Tanya said.

“John recalls, “Even as a baby Justify was overwhelming looking
and unequivocally intelligent. He and Vino Rosso were Tanya’s favorites, and of a two
he was a some-more assertive one.”

Tanya added, “As a baby foal, Justify was good finished and
very clever and it didn’t take prolonged for him to rise a cheeky, energetic
nature that would be spin his heading via a time we had him at
Glennwood. He was clearly widespread and usually some-more so as a months went by. He
developed into a large colt that filled your eye with his strength and power. He
looked some-more like a 2-year-old than a deer by a summer months of
sales prep. He knew he was a ‘king’ early on, creation it straightforwardly apparent that
you wouldn’t wish to plea him, and that he was simply humoring his
handlers by permitting them to consider that we were in charge.”

It hadn’t taken Tanya prolonged to comprehend that Stage Magic’s
foal was something out of a ordinary. One day, she was holding him out to the
field, and a other weanlings were already out, that got him a bit perturbed.
He was so in a precipitate to join them that Tanya was incompetent to keep adult with him.

“I’m a flattering quick walker, and we was so tender that this
colt outwalked me to a field,” Tanya said. “He was usually a weanling and was
not half-jogging to do it – usually striding brazen with a purpose and covering
so most ground. we can't remember doing a weanling during his age doing this as
easily as he did, and it left an memorable sense on my mind. Needless to
say, when he got bigger and stronger as a deer he was a initial to go out.

“As most as we became trustworthy to Vino Rosso when working
around a dual colts as juvenile horses, Justify always ordered your attention
from a juvenile age. He was commanding and eye-catching and such an athletic

When it came time for a Keeneland Sep deer sale,
Tanya did not wish to sell Justify or Vino Rosso, feeling both colts were
special. So her father motionless to make it a win-win situation. He also had
second thoughts about offered them and put high pot on both colts. For
Justify, he put a large haven of $499,000, reckoning he would be happy if he
surpassed that figure and he would be happy if he didn’t and he would be forced
to keep him.

Tanya was concerned to see how both colts rubbed a stress
of a sale. She remembers how Justify seemed to adore a action. “He was
confident, not shaken or stressed; rather usually intrigued, like he was soaking
it all up,” she recalled. “I adore to see that in a juvenile equine given we hope
that this appearance and opinion might bode good for how they will hoop a big
race days we dream about them carrying down a highway one day. With a little
luck, maybe even one Saturday in May.”

Although a colt perceived a good series of visitors, four
or 5 veterinarians incited him down, according to John.

“He had a little OCD lesion,” John said. “Coolmore desired him
and we was astounded they went off a equine given they stood Scat Daddy.”

Despite a rejections, Tanya and her father watched the
bidding increase, removing closer and closer to their reserve. Would a colt
sell or would they move him home? Now it was removing adult around their reserve.
One some-more bid and he would have a new owner. And one some-more bid was all there was.
The produce fell during $500,000, usually $1,000 above their reserve. WinStar Farm and
China Horse Club now owned a colt. John went to WinStar’s Elliott Walden and
offered to buy in to a colt for half-interest, but, according to John,
neither WinStar nor China Horse Club wanted to revoke their interests…at least
at that time.

As a 2-year-old, Justify was put in a holding pattern, being
sent to juvenile tutor and former Bill Mott partner Rodolphe Brisset at

“He was unequivocally good looking and unequivocally forward, and easy to be
around,” Brisset recalled. “He was still immature, yet always gave a feeling
of a good equine when he was galloping and breezing.”

Tanya said, “I knew he was in training during Keeneland until he
was prepared to boat out to Bob. we was unusual how he was doing and what a plans
were, yet we try to be deferential of a new connectors and not examine too much
once they leave a hands.”

Eventually he was sent to Baffert in an bid for WinStar to
gain a clever participation in California.

As Justify detonate on a stage with his unusual victories
and seemed prepared to join Vino Rosso on a Derby trail, it started to penetrate in
to Tanya and her father usually what they had accomplished, carrying bred and raised
to Kentucky Derby horses.

Tanya began to feel what Baffert was feeling as she watched
Justify browbeat his opponents with that large travel and beget all that

“Justify moves in a approach that leaves we mislaid for words,” she
said following a colt’s easy stipend romp. “It’s like we need to reason your
breath, take a impulse to digest it, and afterwards rewind it and knowledge it

Then came Apr 7 with Justify and Vino Rosso using in the
Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial, respectively, on both coasts. Tanya was in
France examination a races on her iPhone during one o’clock in a morning, while
John was examination with his buddies in The Derby Bar and Grill outward Vancouver.
That’s where he goes to investigate a form and make a few bets.

Earlier in a day, Tanya’s stomach was “in knots,” as she
awaited both races. “When we watch any races with a horses or horses we bred,
‘safe trip, protected trip,’ is what I’m observant underneath my exhale or in my conduct the
whole time,” she said. “My fingers are crossed that they both stay protected and
healthy. we can’t wait to see them again.”

Tanya couldn’t trust it when both colts won and did it
impressively. Justify, creation his stakes debut, had grown into a man, defeating
the gifted and distant some-more gifted Bolt d’Oro, already a leader of two
grade 1 stakes and a category 2, by 3 lengths, earning a outrageous 107 Beyer speed

“When it became transparent that he was going to win, we had my
hand covering my mouth in a ‘Wow! We indeed did it,'” Tanya said. “It was so
emotional. These are a babies.”

Now it was on to Kentucky for both colts and a possibility for
Tanya and John to be reunited with them; to see how they had grown, something
they hadn’t finished given they were sole as yearlings.

“We stopped by Baffert’s stable and saw him,” John said. “He
was a best looking yearling. Then we see him during Churchill and he has turned
out to be a best looking equine I’ve ever seen — big, strong, and well
balanced; a male among boys. we suspicion we would never multiply one as good looking
as Stradivari and along comes Justify.”

Tanya added, “Justify always showed himself to be a
powerhouse, so it was not a warn whatsoever to see he was still a powerhouse.
Just like he did during a sale he was still amatory a action. I’m not going to
say either there were any tears.”

She didn’t have to say, meaningful how she cried during a sale
when she had to contend goodbye to both colts.

Several days before a Derby Tanya had a dream that Justify
won by 3 lengths. “Having been means to benefit a closer attribute with Vino
due to his laid-back demeanor, we knew in my heart this meant something to have
this dream,” she said.”

The final impulse came during Churchill Downs usually before
post position draw. Someone asked John and Tanya which post they wanted for Justify. Without
hesitation Tanya pronounced “No. 7.”

“When Justify’s name was called for a 7 hole, it was like
just knowing,” Tanya said. “I envisioned that he would mangle well, or if he
didn’t, he would make adult belligerent quick and be usually off a pace. And that if
he didn’t get to pulling too most his large and fit travel and category would
get him home in front.”

Finally, a large day arrived and John and Tanya watched the
race together. As it unfolded, John felt a call of certainty strike him, carrying that
much faith in Justify.

“I strangely adequate usually felt he would win,” John said.
“Once he came out of a embankment neatly and went into a initial turn, we was sure
of it, generally carrying Mike Smith aboard. Down a widen we wasn’t worried
about him removing beat. My heart was pulsation flattering good, though. Once he won,
it didn’t unequivocally penetrate in how poignant it is to multiply a Kentucky Derby
winner. When we suspicion about it a subsequent morning we had to splash myself; did
this unequivocally happen? It creates me feel generally good for Tanya and all the
Glennwood staff. Everyone is so happy.”

Tanya ran a progression of emotions – hope, confidence, and
unbridled fun — as a competition played out usually as she had dreamed.

“When we saw a quick fractions, we should have been worried,
but he was doing it with that clearly free contented large travel of his
and so we wasn’t,” she said. “I looked for Vino Rosso and couldn’t find him in
the soppy disaster behind a frontrunners. Turning for home, we usually knew and cheered
him on home, screaming with a apportionment of a WinStar group and my father just
behind me. we was on a chair in heels usually anticipating not to tumble off yet not really
caring during a same time if we did, so prolonged as we could see Justify channel the
finish line in front.

“I consider my initial difference were ‘Oh, my God!’ as we again
covered my mouth with a astonishment of it all. The WinStar organisation corralled us
with them to a winner’s circle. For certain we would have mislaid my approach if not for
them, and what an unusual knowledge to be swept adult in that crew. My father and I
got distant and we kept looking around for him usually to see he had somehow
taken a faster track to a winner’s round and was there with his best friend
Steve Irwin and Lindsay Wilson, one of a pivotal people during Glennwood. There were
tears of fun and outrageous smiles from everyone, and my father usually had this demeanour of
shock. He had bred a Kentucky Derby winner! I’m so unapproachable of him, a horse, the
mare, a farm. But it was a humbling impulse during a same time.”

Beyond a disturb of winning a Kentucky Derby, Tanya said
she was in astonishment of Justify’s performance. She kept seeking herself how did a
horse do what he usually did? To pull off a approach he did, notwithstanding a blistering
early fractions.

“I have so most appreciation, awe, and honour for a horse
that he is, a heart that he showed, and a opening that he put on,” she
said. “What a horse. And he came from my dad’s mare, innate during a farm, raised
by Glennwood.”

The morning after a race, John and Tanya were behind at
work, cleaning Barn 4 and spending time with Stage Magic, congratulating her.
Her son was now a bona fide superstar. And with her is her baby by Pioneerof a Nile, and out in those unequivocally same fields is her deer colt by Will Take Charge, who, trust it or not, is even bigger than his half-brother was as a

As Tanya said, “A good understanding of time and suspicion went into
Justify’s mating. It didn’t usually occur by chance, so it is unequivocally delightful to
see all those thoughts and dreams encapsulated in this horse. We are usually so
proud of him, and of his mom and his late grandma.”

As if winning a Kentucky Derby and carrying dual starters in
the competition isn’t enough, a Gunthers also have dual half-sisters to a dam of
Good Magic, runner-up in a Derby.

And what of Vino Rosso, who finished ninth? Trainer Todd
Pletcher said, “I don’t consider I’ve ever had a equine with as most sand in eyes
as he did after that race. We’re still flushing it out this morning.”

As for Baffert, his words, that seemed so confidant during a time,
can still be listened booming via a Santa Anita racing bureau – “I
got a equine in there that can win a Derby.”

Two and a half months later, another content was sent to
Baffert congratulating him on his and Justify’s unusual accomplishment,
and once again, a response was obvious and usually as profound:

“He was a savage from day one.”

And given day one, all his opponents have schooled what Tanya
learned that day heading him out to a margin when he was a baby. When he wants
to go, no one can keep adult with him. And as of now, no one can stop him. Not
even Apollo.

As Tanya headed to a winner’s circle, she was encouraged
by WinStar’s Sean Tugel to mislay her high heels so she could get opposite the
soggy territory some-more adeptly. So, there she was barefoot as she arrived in the
winner’s circle.

But it was a travel behind that truly finished a surpassing impact
on her.

“When we walked opposite that sacred Churchill sand surface,
the sand felt special underneath my feet,” she said. “This was Kentucky Derby dirt. But
more important, on this day it was Justify’s dirt.”

Article source: https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/227422/a-beast-from-day-one