LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It may have been a rainy afternoon but the sun broke out, shining brightly on Justify's old Kentucky home as the 3-year-old colt made his way back to Churchill Downs, this time as a Triple Crown winner.
"It was surreal," assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. "It was one of the most exciting things to experience again in a lifetime."
"This city, this region loves thoroughbred racing and loves everything about the Kentucky Derby and loves a special, special horse. There's no question this is a special horse," John Asher with Churchill Downs said.
The legend of Justify began at Churchill Downs when the then-contender for the Run for the Roses won the Kentucky Derby. Justify then galloped his way into history with a win in the Preakness and then a wire-to-wire victory Saturday at the Belmont Stakes to become just the 13th Triple Crown winner, trainer Bob Baffert's second, with Justify's name now tacked underneath American Pharoah's on the wall of Baffert's stable.
"American Pharoah was very special I think because it hadn't been done in so long," Barnes said. "This was special in its own way."
"You look over history, these things tend to come in bunches, but in terms of perspective, don't think about it as the second one in four years," Asher said. "Think about it as the second one in 40 years. That's how rare this is."
While Justify's trainers are not sure when and where the horse will race next, Churchill Downs is preparing to celebrate his achievement this Saturday at its Stephen Foster Racing Celebration. The only question is whether the horse of the hour will be there too.
"Justify and his Derby win and his Triple Crown victory will be celebrated that night and we have great hope he will be part of that celebration so that fans can shower some love on him and tell him how much we appreciate what has happened here," Asher said.
"At the end of the day, he still loves the cameras," Barnes said. "He's a ham in his own way."