The breeding rights for Justify, who became the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having competed as a 2-year-old and followed that feat by winning the Preakness Stakes, were sold by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF (Soros Fund) Racing to Coolmore for $60 million.
The deal was said to have been negotiated before the Preakness, according to multiple people familiar with the deal who were not authorized to speak publicly because it had not yet been announced. A bonus of about $25 million would also kick in if Justify pulled off a Triple Crown sweep by winning the Belmont Stakes on June 9.
Elliott Walden, president and chief executive of WinStar Farm, said Thursday that a deal had not yet been finalized.
“We have had numerous inquiries into the breeding rights of Justify, including from Coolmore,” Walden said in a statement, adding, “We are focused on the Belmont Stakes and his racing career.”
Coolmore stood Justify’s sire, Scat Daddy, who won the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby in 2007 but sustained a tendon injury in the Kentucky Derby that year and was retired. He found success as a stallion, primarily producing prominent turf horses while shuttling from Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky to Australia and Chile. His fee had risen to $100,000 from $10,000, but he died suddenly in 2015 at 11 of a suspected cardiac event after collapsing while leaving his paddock.
“Obviously you felt bad for everyone involved, but we just lost a horse that could have been around for a long while, being very successful as a stallion, producing talented sons and daughters — that’s the stuff you can’t avoid in our industry,” his co-owner James Scatuorchio said.
Scat Daddy’s legacy, however, continues to grow, even on dirt. From his penultimate crop, he sent four horses to the Derby, including Justify.
Coolmore also stands American Pharoah, who in 2015 became the first horse to sweep the Triple Crown in 34 years. His 2018 fee in the United States has not been disclosed, but in the past couple years, he was commanding about $200,000 per live foal that stands and nurses. He also heads to Australia for its fall breeding season and commands about $50,000 per live foal.
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing, who own Justify’s racing rights, also own the third-place Derby finisher Audible, perhaps Justify’s biggest foe as he takes aim at becoming the 13th Triple Crown winner.
Walden said Sunday the group needed more time to think about whether they wanted to risk spoiling their own Triple Crown party.
Already lined up to face Justify in the Belmont are Bravazo and Tenfold, second and third in the Preakness; Blended Citizen, the winner of the Peter Pan Stakes; Hofburg, seventh in the Kentucky Derby; Vino Rosso, ninth in the Derby; and Free Drop Billy, 16th in the Derby.