The news broke yesterday that Justify, horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner who is undefeated in all six races of his short career, is sidelined with a swollen ankle. His owners are taking a cautious approach and have put his training on hold and will further evaluate him before deciding his racing future.
“To go from a maiden winner in February to an undefeated Triple Crown winner in June has been an incredible ride,” said Elliott Walden, the president, CEO, and racing manager for co-owner WinStar Farm. “He is too special to the owners, our team, and all the fans he has around the world to not be 100 percent healthy. As far as any future plans for him, they will be decided after we get him checked out. He is an amazing horse, and we are blessed by his presence.”
In time, we will find out if Justify’s final race was indeed the 2018 Belmont Stakes or whether we, the fans, will be treated to another Justify race this summer, early fall or, fingers crossed, at the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Injuries, athletes, and sports go together, unfortunately, like peanut butter and jelly. It’s part and parcel of competing in sports. Which got us thinking … what other athletes have come back from an injury? Here’s hoping Justify can follow in any of these footsteps:
1. Peyton Manning
Multiple neck surgeries caused Peyton Manning to sit out an entire NFL season and led to much speculation that his career was over. Undeterred and extremely motivated to prove he was far from done, Manning, after being released by the Indianapolis Colts, signed with the Denver Broncos. He went on to lead the Broncos to two Super Bowls, losing the first one to the Seattle Seahawks and culminating his career with a second Super Bowl victory in 2016.
2. Giancarlo Stanton
As a Miami Marlin, Giancarlo Stanton got hit in the face with a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2014 season. He suffered facial fractures and dental damage and did not return for the rest of that season. Today, Stanton is a centerpiece of the New York Yankees lineup as they are embroiled in an epic battle with their rival, the Boston Red Sox, for the American League East.
3. Paul George
While taking part in a scrimmage with U.S. national basketball team, Paul George, then an Indiana Pacer, suffered one of the more graphically horrendous injuries, a compound tibia-fibula fracture. It looked to be a potential career-ending, or at least career-changing, injury. But Paul’s fierce determination to return to the game he loved led him back. Today, Paul, a five-time NBA All-Star, plays with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
4. Buster Posey
In 2011, Buster Posey suffered a fractured fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle, ending his season after just 45 games, as a result of a home plate collision with Scout Cousins of the Miami Marlins. How did Posey rebound from such an injury? Well, he simply rehabbed back into shape and returned the next season fully healthy. Moreover, he won the National League batting title with a .336 average while playing in 148 games.
5. Drew Brees
In the final game of 2005, Drew Brees, then the quarterback of the San Diego Chargers, suffered a dislocated shoulder, torn labrum, and partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing arm. The Chargers were skeptical of his ability to return to full health and offered a lesser contract than the New Orleans Saints, who took a chance he would fully be rehabilitated and come back to All-Pro form. Brees signed with the Saints, ultimately leading them to the 2010 Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Oh yeah, Brees is also a Thoroughbred owner and big fan of horse racing.