Hard To Justify (Justify) Gr.2 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont

Hard to Justify Earns Breeders’ Cup Spot in Miss Grillo

Justify’s Hard to Justify (2f Justify x Instant Reflex, by Quality Road) secured her spot in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Wednesday with a victory in the Grade II Miss Grillo Stakes.

The Yeguada Centurion-bred filly took up her spot just behind the pacesetter in the 1 1/16 mile turf race, letting that one set an easy pace in front of her as they raced down the backstretch. A few paths wide throughout, Hard to Justify wasn’t expected to put in serious work until the stretch and that was exactly what she did once asked.

Racing between foes down the stretch, she took over the lead just outside the final furlong and started to edge away as they raced toward the line. Another runner made it so she didn’t get far but Hard to Justify easily held that one at bay with a half-length victory.

“She jumped super and showed some good speed, so it was great. Turning for home, as soon as that horse [No. 11, Whimsically] came alongside of me she really engaged and switched gears. From there, I thought she got the job done,” said jockey Flavien Prat.

The victory was the second in two starts for the Chad Brown-trained Hard to Justify, who was purchased by racing owner Wise Racing as a yearling.

The filly is one of two winners from two to race out of the Grade III-placed Instant Reflex, who is a half-sister to the Grade III-placed Before You Know It and Tarantino. The family also includes Grade I winner Starman and Uncle Mo’s Grade II winner King Guillermo.

With Hard To Justify’s victory, Justify has now sired five juvenile stakes winners in 2023 to lead all North American sires by two winners. That group includes Sunday’s Grade I winner Opera Singer.