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Asmussen Targeting Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Justin Phillip

Zayat Stables’ Justin Phillip was in good shape the morning after earning his first career Grade 1 victory in Sunday’s $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, according to NYRA Press.

Justin Phillip

Justin Phillip

The 5-year-old son of First Samurai came a neck shy of winning last year’s Vanderbilt and had won two of eight starts since, including the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park in April.

By winning the Vanderbilt, Justin Phillip added $240,000 to his purse earnings, pushing him to $1,118,437 in 29 lifetime starts. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.59.

“He came out of it really well,” trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday morning. “It’s tremendous. He’s a very deserving horse, to have a Grade 1 and put him over a million [dollars] when he’s showed up and battled in the races that he has all the time.”

Asmussen said the next start is undetermined for Justin Phillip, but not the year-end goal. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 in the race, a career high.

“We’ll try to figure out how to get from here to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint after that race,” he said. “We’ll wait until he goes back to the track and go from there.”

Justin Phillip was fifth, beaten four lengths, in last year’s Sprint. He has a record of 5-3-2 from 15 career starts at the Sprint’s six-furlong distance.

NYRA photo by Courtney Heeney