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The birth of a Legend
“He is just a really good horse.
That’s what makes him so great.
He’s a superior horse, just like American
Pharoah. I’m very fortunate
to train him.”
Bob Baffert, Justify’s trainer
Bob Baffert, Justify’s trainer
When the beautiful chestnut colt Justify won the 2018 edition of the American Triple Crown, he became an instant legend, not just in America, but across the globe. To win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, timed by Longines, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, also timed by Longines, which are run in rapid succession over three different distances, is such a difficult sporting challenge that only twelve horses have been able to add their names to Sir Barton’s, the inaugural winner of the American Triple Crown in 1919.

The current decade though is proving to be something of a golden era in the history of the American Triple Crown. Following a dry spell of thirty-seven years, when many racing fans had already resigned themselves to the idea that they would never see another horse like Secretariat, Seattle Slew or Affirmed, who had all succeeded in lifting this elusive trophy in the 1970s, along came American Pharoah.

Not very big in stature, he had the heart of a lion and the engine to go with it and in 2015 he won all three of the American Triple Crown races in impressive fashion. After such a long wait, his triumph made headlines around the world and racing enthusiasts were rejoicing that they had finally witnessed the making of an extraordinary champion, never imagining for one moment that only a few weeks before American Pharoah started to write his name into the history books, another future Triple Crown winner was seeing the light of the world for the first time.

Three years later, Justify, the son of formidable stallion Scat Daddy, burst onto the scene, winning race after race with such authority that by the time the Belmont Stakes came around, no one was surprised to learn that the American Triple Crown had indeed been won for the thirteenth time.

Trained at the same yard in California as the 2015 Longines World’s Best Racehorse American Pharoah, Justify’s bid for the American Triple Crown had already been the talk of the town before he even went down to the start of the Kentucky Derby, the first race in the series to eternal greatness. Big, powerful and unbeaten in three starts, he had impressed everyone who had seen him, but he needed to overcome what was known in racing circles as the famous “Apollo’s Curse”.

In 1882 Apollo won the Kentucky Derby without having had a run as a two-year-old, a feat never repeated since. According to racing professionals and backed up by 136 years of history, winning the Kentucky Derby without the experience gathered as a two-year-old was considered pretty much impossible.

And Justify, who was bought at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sales by the WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing partnership, had never made it to the racecourse at the age of two. In fact, the gleaming chestnut colt, a son of Scat Daddy and Stage Magic, was a big individual who had spent the start of his two-year-old year with French trainer Rodolphe Brisset in Kentucky, where he was given time to grow into his frame. It was only in November 2017 that he was sent to trainer Bob Baffert in California.
In a steady rain Justify won the 144th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs by two and a half lengths in 2 minutes, 4 seconds and 20 hundredths of a second.
Four months later though, he made his racecourse debut at Santa Anita, where he won by an impressive nine and a half lengths. On his second start, under Mike Smith, he again won by more than six lengths and after lifting the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, he was firmly established as the favourite for the Kentucky Derby, even though the infamous “Apollo’s Curse” was continuing to worry his supporters.

“The Apollo thing, it comes up a lot,” his trainer Bob Baffert said at the time. “I think the game has changed. Horses don’t run as often as two-year-olds as they used to. Trainers take their time. The first time I worked Justify at Santa Anita, I knew he was something really special. Breaking the curse is going to happen. Whether it happens this year or another, it’s going to happen.”

On the day of the 144th Kentucky Derby, traditionally run on the first Saturday in May, despite not having run as a two-year-old, Justify entered the gates as the hot favourite. Each of his victories leading into this important event had been too impressive to discourage the crowd who was putting its faith into Bob Baffert, the man who had already trained some of racing’s greatest champions like 2015 American Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and the 2016 and 2017 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Arrogate.

And they were not disappointed, as Justify, unaware of “Apollo’s Curse” and completely unfazed by the sloppy track, the continuous rain, his nineteen opponents and the thousands of spectators, galloped valiantly to the winning post to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby without the benefit of having raced as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882.

“He is just a really good horse. That’s what makes him so great. He’s a superior horse, just like American Pharoah,” Bob Baffert said after the historic victory. “I’m very fortunate to train him. Already after his maiden win I thought we had something special. In fact, I thought the clock was wrong. That is how fast he ran. And to come here to Churchill Downs to be involved in this tough bunch, there were some really good horses in that race and those last hundred yards, I just knew he would win. I was in awe. He put himself up there with the greats.”

Unsurprisingly, following that remarkable display of sheer power, Justify quickly became a firm favourite to lift the American Triple Crown. “You better get used to this,” Baffert said to Justify the day after he won the Kentucky Derby, when he paraded in front of the world’s press.

The imposing chestnut with his large white blaze was always destined for greatness. A descendant of Seattle Slew and Secretariat, he even has blood of the last English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky running through his veins. Standing at 16.3 hands, which makes him one of the giants in the world of Thoroughbreds, he moves effortlessly, which he showed again two weeks later when he lifted the 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

“It is a once in a lifetime experience
to win a Triple Crown. He is a very
focused horse, he is much more
mature than his age.”
Mike Smith, rider of Justify to the Triple Crown
Mike Smith, rider of Justify to the Triple Crown
The dream of a next American Triple Crown winner was alive once more and racing fans all over the world eagerly awaited the final leg at Belmont Park. Could it really be that the American Triple Crown, which had eluded horses for 37 years would be won once again, only three years after American Pharoah?

His jockey Mike Smith thought so, as did his trainer Bob Baffert. On 9 June, five weeks after his triumph in the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after winning the Preakness Stakes, Justify once more assumed his role as the favourite of the Belmont Stakes, with 2400 metres the longest race in the series, the one where not only speed but stamina is needed to reach the highest step on the podium. And as expected by the huge crowd of admirers who had flocked to New York, Justify did what he was born to do and delivered a scintillating run down the straight.

“He is just an incredible animal,” said Mike Smith. “It is a once in a lifetime experience to win a Triple Crown. He is a very focused horse, he is much more mature than his age.” And Bob Baffert, who has since been introduced to the Hall of Fame of Kentucky, where he joins the likes of Mohammad Ali, added: “He is big, powerful, athletic, fast, he is very rare, he is a beast. He is the most beautiful animal. But it’s the mechanics, the way they move that make horses like Justify special. Horses like him, or like American Pharoah, they are rare, just like Seattle Slew or Secretariat. And like any great athlete, they have a fluid way of moving. When horses come to him, he can just get away from them.”

Unfortunately, the Belmont Stakes were to be Justify’s last race as he was retired not long afterwards due to a slight filling in the ankle of his left front leg that kept reappearing. His trainer Bob Baffert felt he could not get him fit quick enough for a start in the autumn and seeing that he was always going to stud as a four-year-old, it was decided that he should be retired.

Justify will now join the Coolmore Stud, which bought the breeding rights to this outstanding racehorse and where he will cover up to 250 mares a season. Very soon, the blood of racing’s all-time greats will be passed on to Justify’s off-spring. And who knows, maybe the next American Triple Crown winner is just around the corner. After all, the golden era might not be over just yet. (Liz Price)

Longines Tracking System
Longines Tracking System
A world premiere
A world premiere
Longines and Ascot Racecourse officially launched the Swiss watch brand’s innovative Longines Tracking System during the prestigious Royal Meeting end of June 2018. Ascot Racecourse thus becomes the first racecourse to be equipped with the system. This game-changing timing and tracking system – a world premiere in the horse racing industry – provides instant data on the exact position of horses during a race, race rankings, the distance between horses as well as their acceleration and deceleration. In addition, it measures the horses’ covered and remaining distance in the race.
Entirely based on satellite data, the Longines Tracking System boasts extreme accuracy, without any permanent installation on the racecourse, as required by the currently existing tracking systems. Developed in collaboration with Swiss Timing, the system represents a technological break-through in the horseracing industry, as it enables the most prestigious racecourses across the globe – including those located in protected historical or natural sites - to have access to such advanced technologies.

Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, said: “For Longines, investing in technological advancements is the latest step in its long-term relationship with horseracing. The Longines Tracking System delivers a number of benefits to the sport and is a game-changer for the racing industry. We believe that live performance data enhances viewing experience and depth of understanding of the sport.”

Juliet Slot, Chief Commercial Officer of Ascot Racecourse, commented: “We are delighted to have installed the new Longines Tracking System, adding valuable information to our racegoers and racing shareholders even now in the early days of its implementation. Longines as our Official Partner and Timekeeper has been committed to showcasing their system at Ascot and we are delighted with the results.”

Alain Zobrist, CEO of Longines Timing, explains how the Longines Tracking System works: “Unlike the Longines Positioning System, the Longines Tracking System doesn’t required any permanent installation on the racecourse. Just two or three mobile antennae positioned on the track are enough to link up to the satellites. The horses’ readings are gathered by small, light transponders implanted directly in the horses’ saddle pads. What makes the system so revolutionary is its high accuracy coupled with absence of permanent infrastructure.”

Longines has enjoyed close ties with equestrian sports for more than 140 years. As a result, the brand has become an institutional partner to the world of racing, as demonstrated by the large number of major events with which its name is associated all over the world – not to mention its partnership with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, which has notably given rise to the Longines & IFHA International Award of Merit, the Longines World Best Horse Race and Racehorse Awards, and the Longines World Best Jockey Award. As it presents the Longines Tracking System today, Longines is the sole partner in the world that can offer its partners in the racing world a global solution which integrates timekeeping, photo finishes of the latest generation and a tracking system, whether it be in the form of the Longines Positioning System (precision to within 5 centimetres) or the Longines Tracking System (precision to within 20 centimetres).

“For Longines, investing in
technological advancements is
the latest step in its long-term
relationship with horseracing.”
Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines
and Head of International Marketing
Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines
and Head of International Marketing
RTK technology
The Longines Tracking System is based on RTK “real-time kinematic” technology, which improves on the accuracy of a classic, GPS-style satellite system. While the latter boasts metre precision, thanks to this RTK technology the Longines Tracking System is accurate to within a few centimetres, which is crucial in sporting activities such as horseracing.
The Longines Tracking System provides:
  • – timing to 1/100th of a second for each horse participating in the race, as well as individual split times throughout the event, the speed and acceleration measured up to 30 times per second
  • – the ranking and average speed of each horse for each section of the course
  • – the maximum speed and the best portion of the course for each runner
  • – the individual distance and trajectory course run by each horse
“Unlike the Longines Positioning System, the Longines Tracking System doesn’t required any permanent installation on the racecourse. Just two or three mobile antennae positioned on the track are enough to link up
to the satellites.”
Alain Zobrist, CEO of Longines Timing
Alain Zobrist, CEO of Longines Timing

Thunder of hooves
Thunder of hooves
White Turf
White Turf
The thunderous roar is almost deafening, shaking the nearly meter-thick ice of the St. Moritzersee. Freshly-fallen snow clings to the larches stretching up to the sky on the flanks of Piz Mezdi, framing an iconic winter scene in the Engadine Valley below one of the world’s most prestigious resorts. It’s February in St. Moritz. Time for White Turf.
Skiing and St. Moritz are synonymous. So are the horses. Elegantly-dressed spectators from every corner of the globe come to St. Moritz each February for a unique spectacle of sport. Since 1907, White Turf has been one of the highlights of the Engadine winter calendar. The 112th running will take place February 3, 10 and 17, 2019.

Longines is proud to be the Main Partner, the Official Timekeeper and the Official Watch of White Turf St. Moritz. As part of its partnership with the St. Moritz Racing Association, the Swiss watch brand is also the Title Partner of the featured horse races: the Grand Prix Longines, which is a preparatory race for the Longines 80. Grosser Preis von St. Moritz. In keeping with its tradition of excellence, Longines will also honor the best jockey of the competition with the “Longines Jockey Silver Trophy.”

The preparation of the race course is every bit as detailed as that of the World Cup downhill high above the valley on Piz Corvatsch. The pristine mountain water of the St. Moritzersee begins freezing in December with temperatures dipping to minus 10°C. The ice grows quickly, building to 65 centimetres or more – enough to support the racing infrastructure plus the weight of 10,000 visitors. Officials manage the snow surface to make it optimum for the horses and continually monitor the depth of the ice.

Before the start of White Turf, a unique event of skikjöring debuted as horses pulled skiers to a nearby village and back. The horses with no riders pull skiers at a pace of 50 km/h across the snow and ice. Skikjöring made its way to the lake in 1907, with flat racing beginning four years later. Today, all of the traditions remain and each is an integral part of the Sunday schedule throughout February in St. Moritz – including the King of the Engadine challenge to see who can be the best skikjöring competitor over the three Sundays in February.

The Swiss watch brand and prestigious resort of St. Moritz have enjoyed a partnership going back well over a century. In the late 19th century, two Longines timepieces fitted with a proprietary handwound movement were sent to La Stalia to serve as timekeeping devices. It was the start of an era for Longines as one of the world’s most respect sporting timekeepers, on the cutting edge with alpine skiing and equestrian events. “Since Longines first came to St. Moritz in 1894 we have become even more committed to timekeeping sports competitions,” said Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing. “We attach great importance to tradition, one of the key values of our brand, and we are particularly delighted with our involvement in White Turf.”

In 1878, Longines designed a chronograph that featured a jockey and his mount. The Swiss brand quickly became a favorite of jockeys and horselovers. Today, Longines showcases its values of tradition, elegance and performance with its engagement in horse racing, show jumping, eventing, dressage, driving and endurance competitions.

As skiers carve turns down the pistes from Corvatsch to Corviglia and Diavallezza, eyes peer down to the valley floor to get a bird’s eye view of the innovative pop-up equestrian landscape on the ice of the St. Moritzersee, White Turf.

February in St. Moritz
is all about White Turf
White Turf: a unique, exclusive, top-class event with exciting horse-racing, gourmet catering, lively music and inspiring art exhibitions, all taking place in winter sunshine on the frozen lake among the stunningly beautiful, snow-capped mountains of St. Moritz. Retrospective images of a stunning 2018 edition.
Maxim Pecheur, winner of the Longines 79. Grosser Preis von St. Moritz.
White Turf is an annual event where race-horse owners, trainers, jockeys from all over the world meet up and cheer on horses in spectacular winter surroundings.
Nimrod won the Longines 79th Grand Prix of St. Moritz.
The ice must reach 65cm thick to support the racing infrastructure and the weight of 10,000 spectators.
The horses, at full speed, engage in a fierce battle all the way to the finish line.
Longines honored Maxim Pecheur, the best jockey of the competition, with the “Longines Jockey Silver Trophy”.
Skikjöring: competitors on skis are pulled behind the horses.