Justify's quest to win the Triple Crown remains intact after he edged Bravazo by a half-length on Saturday to win the 2018 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
The three-year-old star trudged to triumph in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 and followed up with another win in a foggy, wet Baltimore, where he again demonstrated superb lasting power from start to finish.
Bravazo's late charge on the outside almost saw him pip trainer Bob Baffert's charge at the death, but rival trainer D. Wayne Lukas saw his contender fall just short.
Victory in the second leg of American horse racing's most prestigious series ensures Baffert is in touching distance of sealing new status at the pinnacle of his field, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Preakness Stakes Payout (Based on $2 Bet), per NBC Sports
1st: Justify (Win: $2.80; Place: $2.80; Show: $2.60)
2nd: Bravazo (Place: $7.60; Show: $4.80)
3rd: Tenfold (Show: $6.80)
Preakness Stakes Results List
Win ($900,000): Justify; Jockey: Mike Smith; Trainer: Bob Baffert
Place ($300,000): Bravazo; Jockey: Luis Saez; Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Show ($165,000): Tenfold; Jockey: Ricardo Santana; Trainer: Steve Asmussen
4th ($90,000): Good Magic; Jockey: Jose Ortiz; Trainer: Chad Brown
5th ($45,000): Lone Sailor; Jockey: Irad Ortiz; Trainer: Thomas Amoss
6th: Sporting Chance; Jockey: Luis Contreras; Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
7th: Diamond King; Jockey: Javier Castellano; Trainer: John Servis
8th: Quip; Jockey: Florent Geroux; Trainer: Rodolphe Brisset
Justify Proves His Pedigree
Those seeking the best parameters to draw comparisons between Justify and fellow Baffert-trained Preakness winner American Pharoah were done a service by Mother Nature on Saturday.
In fact, the fog Justify had to barge through—along with the muddied track—made Pimlico's conditions even worse than those American Pharoah had to compete on in 2015, and he still came out with the victory, via NBC:
Jockey Mike Smith got a brilliant start out of the gate and only ever needed to jostle with Good Magic—who would go on to finish fourth—for the lead out front, establishing a three-length cushion over the chasing pack at the mile mark.
Good Magic was sufficient pressure on Smith's steed in any case and urged him to not only register the fastest Preakness winning time since 2014, but also to best a certain Triple Crown winner's time, per journalist David Mayo:
It was a great ride by Smith and an even more impressive display of stamina from Justify, per track announcer Ed Burgart:
Bravazo jockey Luis Saez could court some criticism for not riding his charge hard enough in the middle of the race, dropping to fourth before launching his late dash and cutting Justify's winning margin to only a half-length.
Beginning that charge even a few seconds earlier could have meant the difference between winning and losing, although Lukas ignited fighting talk of the upcoming Belmont Stakes all the same, per Jeremy Balan of Blood Horse:
Good Magic was not able to keep pace with Justify after staying close for the majority and slipped down the order late on, while Quip disappointed to place last.
Justify's win wasn't a major surprise for the bookmakers and stood as another testament of his class above the rest, with Baffert looking to have another rare stud on his hands heading to Belmont.