MIKE SMITH, JUSTIFY, WINNER: “That was extremely impressive. He passed the two turn test with flying colors. He had a little bit of the second race jitters in the post parade, in the beginning. But man, he took a deep breath and chilled out. For a young horse he has a great mind. That might allow him to catch up even sooner than a normal horse, because of his talent and the mind to go with it.
“He settled and took dirt. Just a little, I didn’t want to get carried away with it. He just kept passing every test so I just stayed out of the way.
(After hearing the final time of 1:35.73) “My lord. Wow, very blessed. And he was gearing down. I didn’t want him to completely pull up so I just squeezed him a little bit but he was gearing way down and did that with flying colors. I was happy to keep the weight on his back anyway.
“That (acceleration) came so natural. He switched leads and naturally opened up his stride and was two in front. I was like, ‘wow.’ I didn’t ask him to move, he just did that extremely easily. He came off that turn like it was a stroll. Just very, very impressed.
“I hate to compare him to other horses right now, but doesn’t he remind you of an Easy Goer way back in the day? Just a big ol’ red horse with a big, powerful stride. The distance didn’t seem to bother him. I know that was just a mile but he could have galloped out another quarter of a mile if he had to. There’s a lot of potential there.
“I have no idea about what’s next for him. I’m just blessed to get on him. I’m very, very blessed with China Horse Club and all of the owners involved. WinStar, which has won Belmont’s, Breeders’ Cup Classics, Oaks and now to have a horse like this…the sky’s the limit hopefully. Good lord willing he stays healthy and sound and continues to improve. And believe it or not, there’s room to improve. He’s just going to get better I believe, if all goes right.
(Regarding what he did to settle Justify in the post parade) “I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary that I normally wouldn’t do. I just tried to stay cool and calm myself. I don’t get in his mouth, take a deep breath, relax, hang my legs if I have to, touch him…simple stuff. Simple things work.
(Regarding the three day suspension he received for his ride aboard McKinzie in the San Felipe) “I wish they would have just suspended me and took away the jock’s purse but left the horse up. He certainly didn’t deserve to come down. I wish somehow we could figure that out. Where if you as a Steward don’t think the horse was involved why punish the horse and the owners and everyone who has put a lot of hard work into him. I mean punish me.”