Justify Plows Through the Mud to Claim The Preakness Stakes

Mark Smith - Sunday May 20

Kentucky Derby hero Justify dispatched the derby runner-up Good Magic on the point of the turn in Saturday' s Grade I Preakness Stakes at Pimlico then held the challenge of the fast-finishing Bravazzo to stay in contention to become the 13th Triple Crown winner.

Run in atrocious conditions and a heavy fog, Mike Smith guided the Bob Baffert-trained Justify to a half-length victory over Bravazzo (Awesome Again) with a further neck back to Tenfold (Curlin) who edged out Good Magic for third. (photo Longines)

"That was a nail-biter," Baffert told The Blood-Horse.

"They put it to us. That was a good horse (Good Magic) and it was like they had their own private match race. Somebody had to give, and I'm glad it wasn't us.

"He had to really work for it. ... Good Magic, I tip my (hat) to him. He made us really work. He's a really good horse.

"My boys were with me and they said, 'I can't see anything,' and when I heard my boys say, 'He's making his move,' I saw the white (WinStar) colours turning for home.

"But I was never really relaxed during the race.

"I knew he was in for a fight. I knew it was not going to be easy. But all I was doing—I was just praying for the wire."

Now undefeated in all five career starts, the son of Scat Daddy will now likely head to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks where he will attempt to be the first undefeated Triple Crown winner since Seattle Slew in 1977.

"We'll get him back to Kentucky and see how he trains, but right now I say why not?" Baffert said.

Remarkably, all five of Baffert's Kentucky Derby winners, Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify travelled to Belmont with a shot at the Triple Crown but only American Pharoah has so far got the job done.

Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, Justify was bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther. He was consigned by Glennwood Farm to the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale where he was knocked down to China Horse Club & Maverick Racing for $500,000.

By Ashford Stud's prematurely deceased Scat Daddy, Justify is the best of three winners from as many to race out of the stakes-placed Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic.

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