Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Justify Now Seems to Enjoy the Spotlight Baffert Hopes to Race the Latest Triple Crown Winner a Little More

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Justify Now Seems to Enjoy the Spotlight Baffert Hopes to Race the Latest Triple Crown Winner a Little More

Article excerpt

ELMONT, N.Y. - The morning after winning the Triple Crown, Justify showed he can put on a different kind of show.

NBC's "Today" show shot a live segment at the barn, and like his predecessor, American Pharoah, Justify calmly stood while trainer Bob Baffert was interviewed. But he went Pharoah one better, actually completing a "walk-and-talk," albeit without the talk.

He posed for cameras. He calmly walked along the edge of a throng of reporters and photographers who took turns patting his head.

"He was tired last night," Baffert said. "When we got back to the barn, he was real rambunctious. But people still kept coming up to him, and finally he just gave up and it was, 'OK. All right. Come on up.' He just gave in."

He still was in a giving mood Sunday morning as he tried to lick cameras and even take a bite out of the garland of carnations he received for winning the Belmont.

From a horse who hasn't been paraded much for public view, the change in demeanor has been remarkable. American Pharoah arrived in Kentucky for his Triple Crown quest already a gentle, social animal.

Justify didn't get around people too much. Baffert said, "You can love on him for about four seconds, then he's had enough."

That appears to have changed. And an even more important change in temperament was on display Saturday before the race.

"I cannot believe the way he walked in the paddock," Baffert said. "I was watching all the other horses leaving the receiving barn and they were skittish. He walked in like King Kong, like he'd been there. He's really intelligent and just a smart, smart horse. And he knows when to turn it on."

Now, he's learning to turn on the charm a little bit.

To celebrate, Baffert went to a local restaurant, King Umberto's, where they spelled out "Triple Crown" with pepperoni on pizzas.

"Every time we come here, we go to King Umberto's," Baffert said. …

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