Justify battled through sloppy conditions to win the 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in a thrilling finish to keep the Triple Crown dream alive.
Justify, trained by Bob Baffert and jockeyed by Mike Smith, remains undefeated in his racing career. Bravazo came in second followed by Tenfold.
The Triple Crown contender found himself in a battle nearly the entire race with Good Magic before the No. 5 horse faded in the end.
It’s Baffert’s seventh Preakness win and Smith’s second.
“It was a nail-biter,” Baffert said after the win. “You know, they put it to us. That was a good horse. … I’m so happy that we got it done. He’s just such a great horse to handle all that pressure.”
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Smith, whose last Preakness win was 25 years ago, believes Justify’s tight finish with Bravazo and Tenfold was due to fatigue and waiting on competition.
“He got a little tired,” Smith said. “This is his hardest race he’s had. But he was also waiting on competition. It’s awful loud out there. Track’s pretty narrow. He was kind of looking and jumping at tracks and doing a few things. But it was a good kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired that I’m hoping anyway, and it felt like he’ll move forward.”
American Pharoah was the last horse to win the Triple Crown in 2015. Only 12 horses in total have achieved that goal in the history of horse racing.
The 150th Belmont Stakes will take place on June 9th on NBC and the NBC Sports app.
Cloud Computing won last year’s Preakness Stakes after not racing in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert swept the CashCall Futurity and Starlet for 2-year-olds, winning the Grade 1 races for the second straight year at Los Alamitos.
Improbable won the $300,345 Futurity by five lengths as the 1-5 favorite and 3-2 favorite Chasing Yesterday won the $300,345 Starlet by a head on Saturday. Drayden Van Dyke became the second jockey to win both races in the same year.
Baffert earned his fifth straight victory in the Futurity and his 11th overall, having won it six times at old Hollywood Park.
Improbable ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.18 and paid $2.40 to win. The colt’s ownership includes most of the group that owned Triple Crown winner Justify.
In the Starlet, Chasing Yesterday ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.59 and paid $5 to win. She is a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, also trained by Baffert.
DEL MAR, Calif. — Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza is aiming to return to riding in January, six months after he was seriously injured in a training accident.
The 46-year-old rider says he had an MRI recently and “it came out perfect.” Espinoza says he doesn’t need surgery and his spinal cord has healed “perfectly,” which was his main concern.
He fractured a vertebra in his neck at Del Mar last July when the horse he was exercising fell.
Espinoza was back at Del Mar on Saturday for the first time since the accident. He presented the trophy to the winning connections in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He has been recuperating at his Del Mar home.
Espinoza says he hopes to return sometime in January at Santa Anita. The track opens its winter meet on Dec. 26.
He rode American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep in 2015.