Deal reached for Justify's breeding rights

Two weeks before the Belmont Stakes and a chance at the Triple Crown, a deal has been reached for the breeding rights to Justify, sources told ESPN.

The buyer is Coolmore, who bought the breeding rights to the last Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, and the price is in the $60 million range, sources said.

In a statement, Winstar Farm said "Nothing is finalized at this time and won't be in the foreseeable future."

Justify is the most famous offspring of Scat Daddy, which Coolmore stood at stud from 2008 to 2015, when the horse died.

Justify was purchased at the Keeneland yearling sale less than a year after Scat Daddy's death for $500,000 by the China Horse Club and Winstar Farm.

This year, Scat Daddy became the first sire in 95 years to produce four starters in the Kentucky Derby -- Justify, Combatant, Flameaway and Mendelsohn.

The latter was purchased by Coolmore for $3 million in the same year that Justify was bought.

Coolmore also owns two stallions by Scat Daddy -- Caravaggio and No Nay Never. And they've been active in picking up other Scat Daddy crop. Coolmore also bought a Scat Daddy colt, bred in the horse's last year, in March for $1 million.

It is common for horses who have Triple Crown hopes to sell before the final leg as a sort of insurance policy. American Pharoah's breeding rights were agreed to at the end of his second year with incentives for winning the Triple Crown. The breeding rights to Big Brown in 2008 were sold before that horse made a failed attempt at winning all three races.

If Justify wins it all on June 9 at the Belmont, the early buy could prove to be lucrative for Coolmore. American Pharoah made roughly $40 million in his first year as a stallion with a stud fee of $200,000 per live foal. Sources told ESPN, however, that the deal includes a big incentive payment if the horse wins.

While $60 million would be a huge bet for Coolmore, the horse would likely breed in the Northern and Southern hemisphere, allowing the horse to breed with the maximum amount of mares.