Justify enters the 2018 Preakness Stakes with plenty of pressure to keep the Triple Crown dream alive.
Not only is the Kentucky Derby winner searching for horse racing glory, he is looking to become the fifth horse trained by Bob Baffert to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in the same year.
Silver Charm, Real Quiet, War Emblem and American Pharoah achieved the feat in the past, but only American Pharoah finished off the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.
Given the way Justify performed at Churchill Downs, it wouldn't be surprising to see him dominate a field with fewer entries than the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Preakness Stakes Odds (via OddsShark)
Justify (-200; bet $200 to win $100)
Good Magic (+450; bet $100 to win $450)
Diamond King (+1600)
Sporting Chance (+3300)
Lone Sailor (N/A)
Picks and Predictions
It's going to be hard to pick against Justify Saturday given the small field of horses he's going up against.
Justify's top competition comes from Good Magic, who placed second at the Kentucky Derby, while two other derby competitors, Lone Sailor and Bravazo, are entered in the field of eight.
“They’re in the zone; they’re just peaking out,” Baffert said. “And so we don’t do a lot with them because they’ve just run. And (Justify) is pretty fit. We’ve been running him into shape, and (the Kentucky Derby) was probably his hardest race."
With a minimal amount of challengers to the Kentucky Derby winner, it might be a wise idea to throw money down on Justify before his odds continue to drop in the coming days.
If there were more contenders for Justify, like he faced at Churchill Downs, the odds might not have been as low, but you're not getting away with a bargain on the horse hunting for the Triple Crown.
Justify is the favorite until proven wrong at Pimlico, which at the bare minimum should feature the favorite at the front of the field for a long stretch.
Much will be made about the challenge Good Magic can mount Saturday, and there's a legitimate argument he could make a charge at Justify.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the horse," trainer Chad Brown said. "I really don't have anything else planned for him before, say, either the Haskell or the Jim Dandy anyway. That said, I wouldn't do it just because he's going to get a bit of a freshening. He has to be doing well, and he's doing exceptionally well."
Brown won his first Triple Crown race a year ago at the Preakness Stakes, as Cloud Computing ended Always Dreaming's quest for horse racing's top honor.
Good Magic is capable of winning big races, as he took first at the 2017 Breeders Cup juvenile and the 2018 Blue Grass Stakes.
With fewer contenders to deal with throughout the race, Good Magic should thrust himself into the front of the pack alongside Justify in order to set up a one-on-one showdown.
Although he'll come up just short, Good Magic's display at Pimlico should create one of the more memorable head-to-head Triple Crown races in recent history.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.