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Baffert: Justify doing well after treatment for bruised heel

Mike Smith

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR LONGINES - Justify, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, wins the 144th Kentucky Derby, the wettest in history, on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Longines, the Swiss watch manufacturer known for its luxury timepieces, is the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the 144th annual Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Longines/AP Images)

Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP

Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify is doing well and is on track for the Preakness after the Kentucky Derby winner was treated for a bruised heel on his left hind foot.

Baffert says Justify was irritated by some gravel on Sunday morning outside the barn at Churchill Downs after winning the Derby on a muddy track. Baffert said on a conference call Thursday that Justify’s feet were tender following the race but added the problem is over after quick treatment.
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“He actually came out of the race really well,” Baffert said from California. “It’s all behind us, and we’re on to Baltimore.”

Justify is undefeated in four starts and expected to be a heavy favorite against Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip and others at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 19. He returned to the track at Churchill Downs to gallop Thursday, with assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes reporting to Baffert that Justify was sharp.

Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, which co-owns Justify, was concerned about the horse’s foot condition Sunday and credited Baffert and his team for resolving it in four days.

“Obviously it’s something that was concerning at the time, but at the same time, you’ve got to have a perspective that you just do the best you can and then things will work out the way they’re supposed to work out,” Walden said.

Veteran trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who is expected to saddle Bravazo and Sporting Chance in the Preakness, watched Justify up close Thursday and said he looked excellent.

“He jogged off perfectly sound, he turned around and galloped very strong,” Lukas said. “I know everybody was watching and looking for a little crack in the armor, but it wasn’t there today and he looked excellent out there. Very good. And showed no signs of what I call stress - breaking out or anything. It was a good day for him. He had a wonderful day.”