Justify Wins 'Run in the Mud' at Churchill Downs

Alfred Osborne
May 6, 2018

Approximately 157,813 people watched Justify roar to victory at Churchill Downs on a soggy Saturday afternoon.

Despite a muddy track that absorbed a Derby-day record three inches of rain and intense downpours as horses were loaded into the starting gates, Justify broke well, starting seventh from the rail and settling into second behind early leader Promises Fulfilled.

Justify, the 2.90-1 post time favorite, paid $7.80 to win and topped a $2 exacta worth $69.60.

Baffert has won five Kentucky Derbys in his career as a trainer and says Justify is up there with the best horses he's trained. With AP Photos.European hopeful Mendelssohn never got a chance to make his move in the Kentucky Derby. Good Magic was second while Audible was third.

As those thoughts were running through his mind, the horse only dug in harder. We knew he was capable.

Mike Smith earned his second Derby victory. He didn't let Justify get away and win by 10 lengths, but he never posed a serious threat. The strapping colt, who stands at 16.3 hands (bigger than American Pharoah), didn't race when he was 2.

Justify is favored just ahead of Mendelssohn (5-1), another 3-year-old under the care of another star trainer, Aidan O'Brien. Like Magnum Moon, he is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has experience winning at Churchill Downs.

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"To come here and do it on a day with this weather, I wasn't feeling great about it", Baffert said. Florida Derby victor Audible finished third Saturday, four lengths behind the undefeated Derby victor Justify and runner-up Good Magic.

That means Brown, 39, the two-time reigning Eclipse Award victor as the nation's top trainer, will have to wait at least one more year to celebrate that elusive milestone.

The next race in the Triple Crown series is May 19 - the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Sign me up for the next four Derbies if things can go this smoothly.

Instilled Regard, an 85-1 shot ridden by Van Dyke, was fourth, followed by 6-1 second choice My Boy Jack, Bravazo and Hofburg.

The 2018 Kentucky Derby field is set. Jockey Javier Castellano, still looking for his first Derby, described the difficulty trying to get Audible to come behind in the slop. "If he gets blocked in, hung out too wide or just gets a rough trip, he may have too much work to do before the wire".

Justify was a dominant victor in the 144th running of the Grade 1, $2 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs today, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic event without having raced at age two.

Mike Smith made his instant Derby victory.

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