Kentucky Derby winner Justify captures Preakness
BALTIMORE — The Latest on Saturday's 143rd running of the Preakness (all times local):
Justify emerged from the fog and sloshed his way to another impressive victory, holding off several hard-charging challengers to win the Preakness on Saturday and keep alive the chance for trainer Bob Baffert's second Triple Crown champion in four years.
On a sloppy track similar to the conditions in the Kentucky Derby, Justify improved to 5-0 and will go to the Belmont Stakes on June 9 looking to do the same thing American Pharoah did for Baffert in 2015.
Justify has finished first at the Preakness, galloping to victory in a thick fog and on a sloppy track at Pimlico to keep alive his bid to capture the Triple Crown.
With jockey Mike Smith in the saddle, Justify held off seven challengers to remain unbeaten and apparently giving trainer Bob Baffert his record-tying seventh Preakness victory.
Bravazo finished second and Tenfold took third in the 1 3/16-mile race.
It's the sixth time in six tries that Baffert has won the Preakness after winning the Kentucky Derby. His seven Preakness victories matches the record set by R.W. Walden in the 1800s.
If the results stand, Justify can become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown winner —the first since Baffert saddled American Pharoah in 2015— by winning the Belmont on June 9.
After an unrelenting rain pelted the track for much of the day, the fog rolled in during the late afternoon.
In what might be a good omen for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith, the tandem entered the winner's circle at Pimlico Saturday— one race before the Preakness.
Baffert is the trainer of Ax Man, who won the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes with Smith aboard.
Ax Man easily bested Title Ready by 6 3/4 lengths on a foggy, wet day in Baltimore.
After the race, Baffert was poised to saddle Justify for Smith in the Preakness.
Baffert, Smith and Justify teamed to win the Kentucky Derby and are favored to capture the Preakness in pursuit of the Triple Crown.
The rain is gone. Now the fog has rolled in at Pimlico Race Course ahead of the Preakness, adding another twist to the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The fog is so thick that the final turn is obstructed from the grandstand. The far side of the track is completely shrouded in fog.
Justify held off Good Magic to win the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago in the mud and rain. The same horses are the top two choices in the betting more than an hour before post time, though no one knows how the fog will affect visibility and the course of the race.
The messy infield at Pimlico Race Course has filled up nicely over the past few hours with fans who want to hear music, socialize and drink beer.
A week's worth of rain has made the infield a muddy mess, complete with deep puddles filled with brown, murky water.
That explains why Ashley Ungs, who traveled from Iowa for her first Preakness, was wearing a lovely yellow hat, striped dress and boots — not glamorous, fashion boots, but rain boots.
The 36-year-old Ungs said: "I don't care if I match. Comfort is the key."
In spite of her precaution, her dress was splashed with mud.
This year, there was only one stage for concerts instead of two. The headliners were rappers Post Malone and 21 Savage, with plenty of music provided between sets by DJs.
The rainy weather is proving costly to Pimlico Race Course during Preakness week.
Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, says the handle compared to last year is down around $3.5 million "to this point."
He also says that the handle — money wagered at the track — on Friday for Black-Eyed Susan Day was off $1.3 million.
A year ago, Pimlico set records for handle and attendance on Friday and Saturday during Preakness week.
Ritvo says this year it has "been a struggle. Obviously it's hard for me to swallow."
He added: "I've never seen a streak when coming up to the race we get five straight days of rain like this."
With five hours until post time for the Preakness, Kentucky Derby winner Justify is the 1-2 favorite after fluctuating between 2-5 and even money throughout the day. Derby runner-up Good Magic is the 5-1 second choice, and Quip is 9-1.
Justify was set as the 1-2 morning-line favorite Wednesday as he looks to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a chance at his second Triple Crown in four years after American Pharoah in 2015. Justify was the 5-2 favorite when he finished 2 ½ lengths ahead of Good Magic in the Derby two weeks ago.
Lone Sailor is 10-1, Bravazo 12-1, Diamond King 14-1, Sporting Chance 18-1 and Tenfold 20-1 for the 13th race at Pimlico, which is expected to be contested on a sloppy track after several days of rain. The weather led to several scratches on the undercard but as of yet none in the Preakness.
A steady rain has soaked the fans and created a sloppy track at Pimlico Race Course, hours before the start of the Preakness.
Justify, the favorite to win the Preakness, won the Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.
The crowd in the infield and grandstand at Pimlico is far smaller than usual, and those heading to the tents and chalets must slosh through wet grass and mud.
It is not what Belinda Stronach, the chairman and president of the Stronach Group, envisioned when she approved upgrades to the tents, entertainment and concessions for this year's event.
The Stronach Group owns and operates Pimlico, which last year drew a record 140,327 for the Preakness. This year, attendance will be significantly lower because of the rain.
Stronach says they have fingers crossed and are "still hoping there are gaps in the weather, especially during the race. We hope the race goes off without a hitch."
She says track officials are doing their best to make sure they look at all aspects. "Umbrellas, ponchos, boots. I think we've cleaned out the entire Baltimore and D.C. area."
The weather has led to the Budweiser Clydesdales being scratched and a demonstration by parachute jumpers to be canceled from pre-Preakness festivities. In previous years, the Clydesdales preceded the racehorses on the track before the Preakness. The mud built up from days of rain made that implausible.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will be chasing history, and Justify hopes to keep his Triple Crown bid alive in what is shaping up to be a soggy Preakness.
Baffert saddled Justify in a Kentucky Derby victory on a wet track two weeks ago, and the duo is looking for a repeat performance Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
Weather forecasters are calling for rain much of the day. If the weather doesn't influence the race — Justify is the heavy favorite — it most certainly could have an impact on attendance after the event drew a record 140,327 in 2017.
Baffert is seeking his seventh Preakness victory, which would tie R.W. Walden for most by a trainer in the history of the race, which was first run in 1873. Baffert is 5 for 5 at the Preakness after winning the Derby on May 5.
Justify also has a nice streak going. The chestnut colt has won all four of his career races, including the Derby by 2 1/2 lengths.