BALTIMORE — After a two-and-a-half-length victory in the slop at the Kentucky Derby, the unbeaten Justify will try to claim the second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday in the mile-and-three-sixteenths Preakness Stakes.
Trained by the Triple Crown-winning Bob Baffert, Justify drew Post 7, same as he had in the Derby, and was installed as the overwhelming 1-2 morning-line favorite during the draw on Wednesday at Pimlico Race Course.
Baffert has long had great racehorses sent to his barn, but lately he has been downright spoiled. American Pharoah swept the Triple Crown in 2015, becoming the first horse to do so in 37 years. A year later came Arrogate, who won the Travers Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Pegasus Cup and the Dubai World Cup on the way to becoming the world’s richest racehorse.
Baffert said that what makes all of those horses so special is the way they cover ground while making it look easy. “I love watching him move, it’s like Pharoah,” he said of Justify.
Still, Justify is no sure thing. He was found to have a hoof bruise after the grueling Derby, but Baffert said he was doing fine and ready to roll. Seven horses are set to line up against him, including three he beat in the Derby. Good Magic, the Derby runner-up who is trained by Chad Brown, drew Post 5 and was made the second choice at 3-1.
“With an eight-horse field, and a long run to the first turn, there’s really no disadvantage to where anyone drew,” said Tom Amoss, the trainer of Lone Sailor, who finished eight in the Derby.
As was the case for the Derby, rain is in the forecast for the Baltimore area on Saturday. Justify, who did not race as a 2-year-old and has only four races on his short but impressive résumé, has won twice on wet tracks.
Elliott Walden, president and chief executive of WinStar Farm, which co-owns Justify, said he thought the draw was a good omen.
“To come out of the 7 like he did at Churchill, I think is good,” he said.
Here’s the full field:
Trainer: Rodolphe Brisset Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 12-1
2. Lone Sailor
Trainer: Tom Amoss Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 15-1
3. Sporting Chance
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Contreras Odds: 30-1
4. Diamond King
Trainer: John Servis Jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 30-1
5. Good Magic
Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 3-1
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Odds: 20-1
Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: Mike Smith Odds: 1-2
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 20-1