Justify wins the 143rd Preakness keeping Triple Crown hopes alive
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Source: Associated Press
Amidst the fog, Kentucky Derby winner Justify fended off seven competitors to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown. On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Justify with jockey Mike Smith won the 143rd Preakness stakes by a half a length on a sloppy rain-soaked track at Plimico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Justify won the shortest Triple Crown race at 1 3/16-mile and $1.5 million purse. Coming in second was Bravazo followed by longshot Tenfold and derby runner-up Good Magic who battled most of the race nose to nose with Justify until the last turn. Justify finished in 1:55.93 seconds, his fifth win in five starts, Smith had his second Preakness win 25 years later and trainer Bob Baffert ties for most Preakness winners, with all his five derby winners winning both legs of the Triple Crown.
Justify broke out of gate seven and kept to the lead, with the champion 2-year-old Good Magic. For three quarter of a mile and seven eighths, the top two horses from the derby duked it out nose to nose in the deep fog and limited visibility. After the last turn, Justify went ahead with Smith using the whip on him, pushing Good Magic in the rail and behind as they headed towards the finish line.
Justify keeps on breaking history. Baffert ties Robert Wyndham Walden, who won seven Preaknesses between 1875 and 1888. Baffert also ties fellow trainer for D. Wayne Lucas for most Triple Crown race wins at 14. Lucas was also trying for his seventh Preakness win with Bravazo and Sporting Chance. While by winning the Derby, Justify became the only horse since 1882 to win the Derby without running as a two-year-old beating Apollo’s Curse.
Baffert told NBC after winning the race, that Justify, “He’s just a great horse to handle all that pressure and keep on running.” Baffert also remakes, “I’m so happy that we got it done. I’ve never had one run that fast here.’’ Baffert also commented on the duel between Justify and Good Magic saying, It was a nail-bite. They put it to us. It was like they had their own private match race (but I’m) so happy we got it done. Such a great horse to handle all that pressure and get it done.” Meanwhile, jockey, Smith commented on Justify’s performance, “He got a little tired. This is his hardest race that he’s had.’’
On Wednesday after the posts were drawn and announced and Justify became the 2–1 odds favorite, Baffert boasted to the press. The Hall-of-Fame trainer expressed, “I like being the favorite. I don’t want to be 50–1. I like knowing that I have a chance to win. When you come in, and you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t know, we’re going to need the Stanford marching band to interfere a little bit,’ then you don’t feel that well. I just feel that when you know that there’s a chance you can pull this off, and when you can win on the big arena, that’s what it’s all about.”
Baffert has a good record; he won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, War Emblem in 2002 and American Pharoah in 2015, which ended up being the 12th Triple Crown winner after a 37-year drought. Now justify moves on to the last and most difficult leg of the Triple Crown known as the “Test of the Champion” with the Belmont Stakes in New York in three weeks on June 9, hoping to become only the 13th horse to win all three jewels.
Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.