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Kentucky Derby 2018: Early Preakness Predictions After Churchill Downs Results

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2018

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05:  Justify #7, ridden by jockey Mike Smith leads the field to the finish line to win the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Coming off an impressive Kentucky Derby victory Saturday, Justify is the driver's seat for a Triple Crown this year going into the Preakness Stakes

If Justify looks how he did yesterday when May 19 rolls around, there won't be a problem. But expecting Justify to win by 2 ½ lengths again is a lot to ask for of any horse, particularly one as inexperienced as the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner.

Sure, Justify is an undefeated three-year-old. But he's only undefeated in four races, having not raced as a two-year-old. Not to take anything away from the colt, but it's a legitimate question to ask how much he has left in the tank on such a short turnaround.

After conquering Churchill Downs, Justify will, admittedly, have an easier time at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, which has a shorter track. Another advantage Justify might have is that after the Kentucky Derby, for which each horse competing is in peak physical condition, the competition drops off in the Preakness.

Once the Triple Crown is off the table for some owners and trainers, you won't see their horses compete at Pimlico Race Course or at the Belmont Stakes.

In fact, only half of last year's Kentucky Derby field competed in the 2017 Preakness Stakes.

If there is going to be one obstacle at Preakness that Justify would have had to overcome, it would be muddy conditions. But after yesterday's race, it seems the colt can seemingly do it all when he's in form.

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

Having an experienced jockey helps too.

Mike Smith earned his second career Derby victory Saturday and will look to keep the good times rolling at Preakness. Smith pointed out the positives of the race after winning and also praised the ability of the colt he was riding.

He said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"Just keeping riding horses like this and that'll keep you around a long time. You don't have to work a whole lot; they do all the work for you. ... What happened today is what I have been daydreaming about all afternoon. I just knew he was capable of this. My job was just to get him out of there. I did that, and the rest is up to him."

Justify is the +150 favorite (wager $100 to win $150) to win the second leg of the Triple Crown, according to OddsShark.

Barring any unforeseen mishaps, Justify is the horse to beat, and he will prove why that is once again on May 19.

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