Sports

Justify Favorite Again, This Time at Preakness

Justify Favorite Again, This Time at Preakness

"Bob's a great trainer", said Elliott Walden, CEO of WinStar Farms, which bought Justify at auction for $500,000 and then delivered him to Baffert. All four of his previous Derby winners-Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002) and American Pharoah (2015)-have added Preakness victories.

"They're in the zone; they're just peaking out", Baffert said of his Derby winners. And [Justify] is pretty fit.

As impressive as Justify was in the Derby, it is fair to note that his final running time 2:04.4 was slow by any standards.

"This track can probably take more water than any track I've ever seen", he said. "Now, he just needs to do it, but you still need racing luck". You could tell today he wanted to go faster than the rider wanted.

If Justify replicates his speed from the Derby he is going to be tough to beat. And with only eight horses going to post, Justify is the 1-2 prohibitive early-morning line favorite.

Geroux also experienced success with Gun Runner in 2016, as the jockey-horse combination won the Louisiana Derby and took third in the Kentucky Derby. He took sixth in the Kentucky Derby and will run from the No. 8 post at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday. "I really, really need a raincoat", Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows sang in the band's moody 1993 ballad "Raining In Baltimore". "I don't like being 50-1. I like knowing that I have a chance to win". "We didn't want to do too much because of the condition of the track". Rain is in the forecast until midday Saturday. Eastern time Saturday with thunderstorms beginning at 1 p.m.

Bravazo, priced at 20-1, is one of two horses saddled by Lukas along with 30-1 Sporting Chance as the 82-year-old trainer seeks a record equalling seventh Preakness win himself. Justify glided over the slop as easily as he did May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Bob Baffert with Justify
Bob Baffert leads Justify out of the barn the morning after his winning Kentucky Derby run at Churchill Downs. AP

Whether you're taking the favorite at 1/2 or looking for a viable longshot to spoil Justify's Triple Crown run, there's plenty to know about each horse in the field. I watched him all week. "That's the best Kentucky Derby-winning performance that I've brought up here". Sixteen of those graded stakes victories were in Grade 1 races.

Diamond King, victor of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park, will also take his first shot at the Derby champion, starting from the No. 4 post as a 30-1 choice.

Will Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz use a different strategy this time to try to turn the tables on Justify? According to Brisnet, the par speed figure for a stakes race run at 1 3/16 of a mile is 102, so ideally you want a horse that has shown he can be within three points of that, 99, in a similar class of race.

"As we're dragging (the floats), they compress what we call the cushion - what the sand is and what the horses run on - and that makes it as tight as it can possibly get", Bosley said. Under those conditions, Justify and Good Magic are the only horses that have shown they can be quick enough in Saturday's race.

Good Magic, runner-up to Justify in the Derby, is the second choice at 3-to-1, with no other horse in single digits.

"I'm just happy with the way he went around there", Baffert said. "But you never know until you lead them up there".

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