SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) - As Saratoga Springs prepares for the start of track season, one question remains: Will a certain Triple Crown winner make a Travers Stakes appearance?
The city launched an official campaign on Thursday. Using #JustDefy, the city hopes Justify will race in the Travers and defy the odds – and history.
“Anytime you see a Triple Crown winner in action, that’s rare,” former Saratoga Race Course track announcer Tom Durkin said.
Durkin and many others in the city hope the thirteenth Triple Crown winner will come out to the race course this summer. They’re doing all they can to make it happen, including launching the #JustDefy campaign with t-shirts and all.
“No one has won the Triple Crown and then the Travers in 77 years,” Saratoga Co. Chamber of Commerce Pres. Todd Shimkus said. “It was 1941.”
Only a few years ago, the last Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, made an appearance at the Travers. Attendance was up the entire track season, and 15,000 people showed up just to watch him warm up. Now the Chamber of Commerce wants to do it all over again.
“Having a Triple Crown winner as a champion, as an ambassador for the sport, is amazingly helpful,” Shimkus said.
And so does Marianne Barker of Impressions of Saratoga. She saw a spike in business the season American Pharoah was in town.
“They’re like heroes, you know, the race horses,” she said. “Brought so many more people that just increased our volume that summer I’d say for a good, at least, 20 percent.”
But there are some obstacles to overcome after Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, announced the thoroughbred developed a swollen ankle.
“The horse is going to tell him whether he’s ready or not to go, and they’re not going to race a horse that’s not 100 percent,” Durkin said.
In Saratoga, fans are just hoping for the best.
“I’m, like, 99 percent going, ‘Please bring him, please bring him,’ but we don’t want him to get injured worse,” Barker said.
Justify’s owners aren’t going to make any decisions on future plans until he’s checked out in two weeks.
In the meantime, visit justifytotravers.com and sign a petition to try to get him to come to the track.