Hooked in a nose-to-nose duel all the way around the track with his primary rival Good Magic, Kentucky Derby victor Justify held on to win the 143rd Preakness on Saturday and will head to the Belmont Stakes on June 9 with a chance to become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown victor.
Many horse racing fans are wondering if Justify can make history by wining the Triple Crown. I'm just so blessed to be riding for these people right now. Earlier this month, Justify won the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Mike Smith was equally as elated. After the Preakness, OddsShark reported there were even -120 odds for Justify to both win and come up short.
Justify is the favorite at 1-2 and will break from the seventh post while Good Magic, who drew the fifth post, is the second pick at 3-1.
"No, I didn't want the horse on the lead", Brown said. "We kept him honest".
With Mike Smith aboard, Justify went the 1 3/16th-mile race in 1 minute, 55.93 seconds. "I would have liked to see a different scenario, maybe where we're just off the pace a little bit, we weren't getting pressed on the fence the whole way". Smith was anxious when he saw Good Magic over his shoulder and when Justify slipped early, and he was hoping there was enough left to get to the wire.
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Justify wins the Preakness, staying undefeated and moving to within a mile and a half of the Triple Crown.
Justify was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby having not run as a two-year-old, breaking the so-called "Curse of Apollo", a reference to the last horse to achieve the feat in 1882.
As Baffert was praying for the wire at Pimlico, Justify won by a half-length. "I've never had one run that fast here".
While Justify is the 2-5 favorite in the eight-horse field, the colt suffered a bruised heel and there may be worries that it could be irritated after workouts in the mud.
"We're going to try and get a Breeders' Cup there", Ritvo said of Laurel, "and we're going to have the day in and day out racing there, and those improvements needed to come whether the Preakness moved or not". The Belmont, a grueling marathon, would be Justify's sixth race since he made his career debut February 18.
"These great horses, they just define themselves when they get in that situation, and today, he just showed not only is he a big, beautiful, gorgeous horse, but he is all racehorse, and that's what it took to win today", Baffert told reporters, per The Baltimore Sun.