April 16, 2024

Justify draws post 7, installed as 1-2 favorite for Preakness 143

Justify (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography


1 Quip Rodolphe Brisset Florent Geroux 12-1
2 Lone Sailor Tom Amoss Irad Ortiz Jr. 15-1
3 Sporting Chance D. Wayne Lukas Luis Contreras 30-1
4 Diamond King John Servis Javier Castellano 30-1
5 Good Magic Chad Brown Jose Ortiz 3-1
6 Tenfold Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana Jr. 20-1
7 Justify Bob Baffert Mike Smith 1-2
8 Bravazo D. Wayne Lukas Luis Saez 20-1

Justify received a favorable draw in post 7 for Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness at Pimlico and the 3-year-old star has been installed as the 1-2 morning line favorite in the middle jewel of the American Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby winner heads an eight-horse field in the 1 3/16-mile test.

Unbeaten from four starts, Justify broke cleanly and settled into a perfect rhythm from the same post two weeks earlier but had 13 rivals to his outside in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby starting gate. The well-built chestnut has the speed to show the way early and the tractability to sit close if necessary, and jockey Mike Smith will have greater flexibility to establish early positioning from his outside spot Saturday.

Bob Baffert, who moved into second by himself with five Kentucky Derby wins following Justify’s 2 ½-length Kentucky Derby decision, enters the Preakness tied for second with six wins. The Hall of Fame trainer can move alongside all-time leader R. Wyndham Walden, who won the Preakness seven times during the 1800s. All four of Baffert’s previous Kentucky Derby victors – American Pharoah, Real Quiet, Silver Charm and War Emblem – came back to win the Preakness.

By the late sire Scat Daddy, Justify is campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC and Starlight Racing. The Kentucky-bred was purchased for $500,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. He hails from the Grade 3-placed Ghostzapper mare Stage Music.

Justify, who earned a career-best 114 BRIS Speed rating winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) two starts previously, is one of only two Preakness contestants to receive a triple-digit Speed figure this year.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic rates as the clear 3-1 second choice, the only other member of the Preakness field less than 12-1 on the morning line. By Curlin, who sired 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator, Good Magic was named 2-year-old champion after breaking his maiden in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and captured the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland in his final Kentucky Derby prep.

The Chad Brown-trained colt offered a bid nearing the completion of the far turn and while he could never draw even with the winner, Good Magic was the only horse to offer a serious challenge at Churchill Downs and admirably saved second by a head in the latter stages. Jose Ortiz retains the mount.

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) hero Quip skipped the Kentucky Derby after a non-threatening second in the Arkansas Derby (G1), and the son of Distorted Humor will try to emulate Cloud Computing, who upset last year’s Preakness after sitting out the first leg of the Triple Crown. Regular rider Florent Geroux will be aboard Quip and Rudolphe Brisset is responsible for the early 12-1 third choice.

Risen Star (G2) upsetter Bravazo got nothing out his final prep when retreating to be a well-beaten eighth in the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), but the Awesome Again colt outperformed his 66-1 odds with a rallying sixth in the Kentucky Derby. He’s trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who is currently tied with Baffert with 14 Triple Crown race wins and six Preakness tallies, and the Hall of Fame conditioner will also send out juvenile Grade 1 scorer Sporting Chance, who joins the Triple Crown following a fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Luis Saez takes over the reins aboard Bravazo, who is listed at 20-1 on the morning line. Luis Contreras sticks with the 30-1 Sporting Chance.

Lone Sailor will try to improve upon a troubled eighth in the Kentucky Derby. The late runner was repeatedly stopped in traffic last time and adds a new pilot in Irad Ortiz Jr. He’s been installed as the 15-1 fourth choice and the Tom Amoss trainee has the distinction of registering a triple-digit BRIS Speed rating this year, generating a 100 for a neck second in the Louisiana Derby.

Tenfold will be tested for class in his second stakes attempt. The thrice-raced Curlin colt opened his racing career this year with victories over maiden and entry-level allowance rivals at Oaklawn Park and exits a fifth in his stakes debut, the Arkansas Derby. Ricardo Santana Jr. rides for Steve Asmussen.

Diamond King, who earned an automatic Preakness berth winning the April 21 Federico Tesio at Laurel Park, completes the field. Javier Castellano picks up the mount on the son of Quality Road for John Servis, who captured the 2004 Preakness with Smarty Jones.