Kentucky Derby 2018 Winner: Bob Baffert, Justify Celebration, Reaction

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2018

Mike Smith rides Justify to victory during the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Legendary trainer Bob Baffert earned the fifth Kentucky Derby win of his career, as Justify won on a wet, sloppy Churchill Downs track on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky.

Here's the complete race, per NBC Sports:

NBC Sports @NBCSports

The Curse of Apollo is over! Justify is the winner of the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. Watch the full race replay, presented by @rocketmortgage. #KyDerby https://t.co/CVkPSPlNhh

Justify was the favorite heading into the race and has now won all four of his career starts. On a day that saw a record amount of rainfall for the Derby, per WKYT's Chris Bailey, Justify held off a spirited charge from second-place finisher Good Magic and a late push by Audible (third place) to win the 144th Run for the Roses.

Jockey Mike Smith, now a two-time Kentucky Derby winner, was caught celebrating as the winning colt trotted beneath the twin spires at Churchill Downs, per the Derby's official Twitter account:

Kentucky Derby @KentuckyDerby

A champion under the Twin Spires! https://t.co/cWWnDr4Pyd

Here's the horse getting some well-deserved roses, per NBC Sports:

NBC Sports @NBCSports

Justify has won the 144th @KentuckyDerby! 👏🌹 #KYDerby https://t.co/d6xJyBlRAh

Justify broke the "Curse of the Apollo" with the win, per ESPN's Darren Rovell:

Darren Rovell @darrenrovell

Justify wins the Kentucky Derby having not raced as a two-year-old. Want a picture of the last horse who did that? Can’t do. I can do a drawing though — Apollo in 1882! https://t.co/6Zqf2GXYY3

Baffert is now second in all-time Kentucky Derby wins for a trainer, trailing only Ben Jones, who had six. The last horse Baffert trained to a win at Churchill Downs was American Pharoah, who went on to win the Triple Crown in 2015.

After the race, Baffert had high praise for Justify, per Racing Post:

Racing Post @RacingPost

Bob Baffert on Justify: Him, American Pharoah and Arrogate are cut from a different cloth. It took a great horse to do what he did - I rank him up there with my top ones https://t.co/9HLYSCvk5M

Based on his four sterling performances and his trainer's track record, Justify is all but guaranteed to be the favorite for the Preakness Stakes. Many will be hoping this horse has the staying power to win the Triple Crown.

With only a few races under his belt, Justify should be fresh and raring to go for the Preakness on May 19 in Baltimore.


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