September 26, 2023

Justify returns to Churchill Downs as conquering hero

Justify surveys the scene as assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes looks on in admiration (Coady Photography)

Undefeated Triple Crown winner Justify received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Churchill Downs on Monday, two days after his classic sweep in the Belmont S. (G1).

With his Tex Sutton flight taking off from Long Island’s MacArthur Airport at 11 a.m. (EDT), 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, Justify touched down at Louisville International Airport at 12:52 p.m. Plans called for a water cannon salute to celebrate his arrival.

Justify boarded the van accompanied by his entourage – Hall of Famer Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, exercise rider Humberto Gomez, and groom Eduardo Luna – and received a police escort to Churchill Downs.

When Justify disembarked outside Barn 33, fans and media had already gathered to greet him. The handsome chestnut also had the chance to see the new plaque on the barn exterior honoring his Triple Crown feat. His stall webbing likewise sports the Triple Crown motif.

More arrival images:

Justify’s police escort to Churchill (Coady Photography)


(TwinSpires Photo)


(TwinSpires Photo)


Justify checks out his new plaque (TwinSpires Photo)


The latest adornment to Churchill’s Barn 33 (TwinSpires Photo)


The others stand to attention as Justify makes the rounds (Coady Photography)


(TwinSpires Photo)


(TwinSpires Photo)

Justify is expected to relax at Churchill for the next week before flying home to Baffert’s barn at Santa Anita on Sunday. Hence the Triple Crown star will be on the grounds for Saturday night’s Stephen Foster (G1) card, but there’s no word yet on whether a public appearance may be in the works. Stay tuned for possible updates.