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Justify runs half-mile in prep for Triple try in Belmont

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify has completed a half-mile workout at Churchill Downs in preparation for his Triple Crown bid next month.

The 3-year-old colt covered the distance in 46.80 seconds on Tuesday with trainer Bob Baffert and co-owner Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm looking on. It was the fastest among 43 workouts at the distance. Jockey Martin Garcia flew in from Southern California to work Justify, who is ridden in races by Mike Smith.

Baffert says Justify performed the way he wanted, and he believes the colt is progressing ahead of the June 9 Belmont Stakes.

Justify is expected to have one more workout, possibly on Monday, before he flies to New York next Wednesday.

Baffert will return to his Southern California base before returning to Louisville this weekend.

Also Tuesday, Free Drop Billy was confirmed to run in the Belmont. The colt finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness.

Santa Anita cancels racing after heavy rain inundates track

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita has canceled its eight-race card because of wet weather after 3+ inches of rain dropped on the Southern California racetrack in three days.

Officials at the track in Arcadia say heavy overnight rains and more rain throughout the day Thursday made it necessary to cancel. They say the track will make every effort to reschedule the races in the immediate future.

Track superintendent Andy LaRocco says an additional 2 inches of rain was forecast for Thursday.

Live racing will resume on Friday with eight races.

Kentucky Derby purse up to $3 million

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby’s purse will be raised to $3 million this May, an increase of $1 million and the first boost in 14 years.

Churchill Downs said Thursday the winner of the 145th running will receive $1.86 million. The runner-up will earn $600,000, with third place worth $300,000, fourth place $150,000 and fifth place $90,000.

The Derby purse had been $2 million since 2005 and $1 million from 1996-2004.

Track President Kevin Flanery attributes the increase to more bettors using historical racing machines – the electronic form of parimutuel betting – at a recently opened facility near the track.

The second and third legs of the Triple Crown offer total purses of $1.5 million in the Preakness and Belmont stakes.

The purse for the Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on May 3 was raised by $250,000 to $1.25 million. It had been worth $1 million since 2011 and was worth $500,000 from 1996-2010.

Churchill Downs also increased purses for some races on the Derby Day undercard on May 4.