Good Magic, Quip are top challengers to Justify in Preakness

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BALTIMORE (AP) Justify is the talk of Pimlico Race Course and the horse racing industry with a very real chance to win the Triple Crown.

But he’s got a few notable challengers in the Preakness. It’s not the 19 he beat in the Kentucky Derby, but the eight-horse field is no cakewalk.

Preakness Stakes: What Time, Where to Watch and More

“It’s tough,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “We have Good Magic, who I have a lot of respect for. He’s a champion. Ran second to us. He’s right there with us. … And then you’ve got Quip. He’s a really good horse. He’s fast.”

Baffert also doesn’t want to count out veteran D. Wayne Lukas’ two horses. The odds may count a few out, but here’s a look at the leading contenders:

JUSTIFY

He’s horse to beat as the 1-2 morning-line favorite for a reason after winning his first four races by a combined 21 1/2 lengths, including the Kentucky Derby in the same slop that could await Saturday. Baffert is 4-0 with Derby winners in the Preakness, so he knows how to handle the two-week turnaround.

“They were peaking at the right time,” Baffert said. “And that’s what the Derby winner usually is – a horse that’s peaking. And they train well. They came out of the race well. With him, think he’s doing the same.”

GOOD MAGIC

A game second to Justify in the Derby, Chad Brown’s horse was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion and has looked great in workouts since arriving at Pimlico. Good Magic is the 3-1 second choice because he has shown he can hang with Justify, and maybe this time he’ll have that one extra kick to get by him down the stretch.

QUIP

Intrigue, thy name is Quip, the Tampa Bay Derby winner who skipped the Run for the Roses to rest up for the Preakness. The best of the new horses finished second in the Arkansas Derby and is 12-1 for Rodolphe Brisset, who used to train Justify.

“He’s a slight-made horse we felt like would do better with the five weeks,” said Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, which co-owns Quip. “We feel like he could have run in the Kentucky Derby but we wanted to give him a chance to catch up to himself.”

BRAVAZO

One of Lukas’ two horses along with Sporting Chance, Bravazo is 12-1 after finishing sixth in the Derby. He’s next to Justify in the starting gates but figures to come off the pace late.

“Somebody had to be,” Lukas said. “I’d just as soon be next to him. I don’t think he’ll be next to him very long.”

LONE SAILOR

Traffic trouble in the 20-horse Derby was more of a problem for Lone Sailor than the mud, and the No. 1 post position is another considerable challenge. If the Louisiana Derby runner-up can find some room between horses, the 15-1 shot is a threat as long as Justify doesn’t save something for the stretch with a slower run in the first half-mile or so.

369 horses nominated to compete in Triple Crown series

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A total of 369 3-year-olds were made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series during the early nomination period.

Each of the horses was nominated through a $600 payment to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes. The Triple Crown opens May 6 with the Derby.

The number of nominated horses increased by 57 from last year’s total of 312. They include a record 37 horses based in Japan.

Among the notable horses is Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion trained by Todd Pletcher.

Also among the predominantly male horses nominated was a filly named Hoosier Philly.

Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 horses nominated to the series. Pletcher was second with 36 horses, followed by Steve Asmussen and Ken McPeek with 13 each. Chad Brown and Hideyuki Mori had 12 each.

Others nominated include Arabian Knight, Cave Rock and Newgate, all trained by Bob Baffert. He is currently banned by Churchill Downs Inc. through this year’s Derby, although Baffert is challenging his two-year punishment in federal court.

For the Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer may be transferred to another trainer and become eligible to earn Derby qualifying points as long as the transfer is done by Feb. 28.

Last year, Baffert transferred two horses to another trainer and both ran in the Derby, although neither was highly placed.

Horses that were not nominated to the Triple Crown series by the early deadline of Jan. 28 can make a late payment of $6,000 through March 27 to become eligible.

Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a neck, with Bob Baffert as the trainer of all four horses in the Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. There was no show wagering because of the field size.

Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Arabian Lion was fourth.

“So much improvement in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen, but I can relax now.”

The Lewis was a Kentucky Derby prep race, but no points were awarded because Baffert has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Fame trainer was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to end the suspension, which runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet. It was meted out following a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Newgate earned his first graded stakes victory. The colt was second, beaten by a neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.

“Frankie Dettori has been teaching him how to just sit back, relax and come with a punch and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975, with two wins in six starts.