Sports

LCF's Baffert Delivers a 5th Kentucky Derby Win

LCF's Baffert Delivers a 5th Kentucky Derby Win

With the Derby victor and runner-up heading to Baltimore for the Preakness, plus a total of 14 other stakes races to be run at Pimlico on Friday and Saturday, including five graded stakes, this is the flawless time for handicappers to turn their attention to Pimlico. "Now at the end of the day, if Justify is the horse they think he is, he's going to beat Quip and maybe go on and win the Triple Crown".

"I need a raincoat. Those things, you don't know when they are going to sneak up on you, but right now, I'm not really anxious about it".

"I'm just happy with the way he went around there".

That sums up the weather forecast for Saturday's Preakness Stakes better than the National Weather Service possibly could.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled American Pharoah for his sweep of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, is one who dared to compare Justify to the 13th Triple Crown champ while singing the praises of the resilient 1-2 morning-line favorite he will saddle for tomorrow's 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. While it remains to be seen if Justify has what it takes to cop a Triple Crown, the strapping 3-year-old chestnut colt achieved something that hadn't been done in 136 years in the Derby. "Plus, he's a speed type of horse, and generally if you like a wet track and are a speed horse, that's a good combo". But the drop-off is particularly noticeable this year, with just seven foes lining up to try to derail Justify's Triple Crown bid before it reaches NY. But Baffert warned the Preakness was "not a 'gimme, '" noting that Good Magic "ran a big race" at Churchill Downs and remained a tough competitor. But given how heavily favored that horse usually is in Baltimore, that's not a wise move. That statistic likely means very little, but it just might suggest that for a Derby runner-up to turn the tables on the victor he has to utilize a different strategy.

In the 2016 Derby, Exaggerator came from some 18 lengths back to finish a fast-closing second to Nyquist.

Justify would like to run in a similar manner to the way he did in the Derby.

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First, he has yet to face a serious challenge in his four races, meaning we have no idea how he will react if someone manages to get him into a dogfight. "We know what he does in the afternoon".

Quip finished second to Magnum Moon in the Grade I Arkansas Derby and Tenfold finished fifth in that same race. In 2017, thanks in large part to Arrogate winning the $16 million Pegasus World Cup and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1), Smith, 52 and Baffert, 65, had career-best years.

I yield to the wisdom of the crowd, but would recommend also using Bravazo in the exotics. As a son of Curlin, he's bred to enjoy a wet track and is another that could come running late to finish on the board at a nice price.

Derby runner-up Good Magic will start from the No. 5 post as a 3-1 second choice in the morning line.

Baffert said Pimlico "probably can take more water than any track I've ever seen" and that if the rain stopped early enough Saturday, "a little wind would dry it out quickly".

Scott Blasi, the assistant trainer for 20-1 long shot Tenfold, said the horse's sire, 2007 Preakness victor Curlin, ran well in the mud during his career.

Email me or follow me on Twitter if you'd like to get in on the fun next week.


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