by Pimlico Press Release
May 21, 2018
BALTIMORE – Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Justify survived a protracted duel with Good Magic and held on to capture the 143rd Preakness Stakes (G1) with a half-length victory over late-charging Bravazo Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
Justify’s victory in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown placed an emphatic exclamation point on an exciting day of World Class racing and entertainment. A 14-race program that offered eight stakes with purse money exceeding $2.5 million was complemented by Preakness InfieldFest 2018, headlined by multi-platinum recording artist Post Malone. The high-energy music festival also hosted ODESZA and 21 Savage, as well as DJ sets by Vice and Frank Walker.
Despite gray skies, rain and fog, a crowd of 134,487 ventured to Pimlico to take part in the festivities and watch Justify put trainer Bob Baffert into the Preakness record books. In addition to staying alive in a quest to sweep the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes (G1) June 9, Justify propelled his Hall of Fame trainer into a tie for most Preakness victories with 19th century trainer Robert Wyndham Walden, who saddled seven Preakness winners between 1875 and 1888. Baffert also equaled the record of 14 victories in the Triple Crown series held by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who came within a half-length of winning his 15th when Bravazo’s late drive fell short.
Justify was Baffert’s fifth career Kentucky Derby winner and became his fifth Derby winner to also capture the Preakness. Justify followed in the hoof prints of Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002) and 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah. Baffert’s two other Preakness victories came in 2001 with Point Given, who was fifth in the Derby, and 2010 with Lookin At Lucky, who finished sixth in the Derby.
Justify, who was sent to post as the 2-5 favorite in a field of eight 3-year-olds, was prevented from setting an uncontested pace as he did in the Derby when Good Magic broke alertly and took the early lead in front of the grandstand. Justify raced alongside Good Magic around the first turn and along the backstretch past fractions of 23.11 seconds, 47.19 seconds and 1:11.42 for the first six furlongs of the 1 3/16-mile classic. The head-to-head battle continued on the far turn and into the stretch, before Justify and jockey Mike Smith emerged from the fog to establish a clear lead in deep stretch. Bravazo, who stalked the pacesetters under jockey Luis Saez, made a late rush at the Derby winner, only to fall a half-length short.
Justify ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.93 on a sloppy, sealed racetrack while running his career record to 5-for-5.
“He’s just a great horse to handle all that pressure and keep on running. He had to really work for it and I’m happy for the horse and Mike and all the connections that we pulled it out,” said Baffert, who has the chance to saddle his second Triple Crown winner only three years after claiming Thoroughbred racing’s biggest price with American Pharoah, who was the first since Affirmed (1978) to pull off the sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
Bravazo, who could have given Lukas a record-tying seventh Preakness win had his late bid not fallen short, finished a neck ahead of Tenfold, the longest shot on the board at 26-1. Good Magic, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby, finished another neck back in fourth under Jose Ortiz. Lone Sailor, Sporting Chance, Diamond King and Quip followed.