The 143rd Preakness Stakes saw Justify take home the win at Pimlico Race Course, keeping alive his Triple Crown hopes.
After taking home the crown at the 144th Run for the Roses at the Kentucky Derby, fan favorite Justify scored another win at the 143rd Preakness, meaning he is still in the running for the Triple Crown. Should Justify win the Triple Crown, he would become just the 13th horse to take the title and the first since American Pharoah accomplished the feat in 2015.
The Saturday race at Pimlico Race Course was not an easy win, with the field muddy and Justify taking on his toughest competition, Good Magic. However, Justify managed to score a half-length victory, the smallest by far of his five career wins, according to The Washington Post.
“It was by far his hardest race,” said Justify’s jockey, 52-year-old Mike Smith. “A bit of the greenness came out today, but he was also pushed today early on.”
“Good Magic, he put it to us,” added Bob Baffert, Justify’s trainer. “They didn’t give it away. He was going to make us earn it. I wasn’t liking it..But this is what makes horse racing so great. They find themselves when they get in this position. He’s not just this big, beautiful horse — he is all racehorse. He was in a fight the whole way.”
Justify, the 2-5 fan favorite, will now go on to race at Belmont Park on Long Island, where he has the chance to earn a spot in history by becoming the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown. He made that chance possible with his 2018 Kentucky Derby win, where he won in 2 minutes and 4.2 seconds on another muddy track.
Justify was the ninth undefeated Kentucky Derby winner, and is also the first horse since 1882 to win as a two-year old. His win marked the end of the so-called “Curse of Apollo,” which stood for 136 years prior to his win.
Since 1937, 61 2-year-old horses have been entered in the derby, though all have failed to win. In the past decade, the closest came with Bodemeister, who finished in second in 2012. In the past decade, the closest came with Bodemeister, who finished in second in 2012.
Justify beat out several other contenders for his Derby win, including Audible, Mendelssohn, Bold d'Oro, Magnum Moon, Vino Rosso, Hofburg, Lone Sailor, Free Drop Billy, Promises Fulfilled, Flameaway, Enticed, Noble Indy, Firenze Fire, Solomini, Bravazo and Combatant.