Thursday's Preakness Report: Justify Receives High Praise from Baffert


Thursday's Preakness Report: Justify Receives High Praise from Baffert

Ah, but Kentucky Derby victor Justify had no trouble navigating the sloppy surface that was the Churchill Downs track two weeks back, so there's no reason to doubt his capacity to do the same at Pimlico, right? Bravazo, one of two horses saddled by 82-year-old D.Wayne Lukas, will break from the outside eighth post and was priced at 20-1.

Justify had a sore left rear foot after the win in Louisville and was fitted with a three-quarter shoe to address the situation, which is a common ailment after horses run on sloppy or muddy tracks as occurred in the Kentucky Derby.

"I wouldn't worry too much about the surface in my handicapping and whether a horse could handle it or not. I really, really need a raincoat", Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows sang in the band's moody 1993 ballad "Raining In Baltimore". Not yet anyway. The precipitation that began Tuesday night carried through a soaking of a Thursday morning at Pimlico Race Course and is projected to continue into Saturday's 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes.

Nearly on cue, the rain stopped falling when Kentucky Derby (G1) victor Justify made his first visit to the Pimlico Race Course track at 8:30 Thursday morning. "It's my favorite leg of the Triple Crown because it's a relaxed atmosphere", Baffert said. So if you find Lukas sneaky in spots like this, you can put both his horses - Bravazo and Sporting Chance - in the trifecta box instead with Justify and Good Magic. 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.

At eight horses, the field is on the small side for recent Preaknesses, matching the one American Pharoah beat on his way to the Triple Crown in 2015.

Baffert has marveled at how well the unbeaten chestnut has held his flesh and energy following his 2 1/2-length triumph over champion Good Magic in the 10-furlong classic.

The victory was Baffert's fifth at the Kentucky Derby and moved the La Cañada Flintridge resident into second place all time, just one win behind Ben Jones, who set the record in the 1940s. We have a Derby victor. Remember 3-5 chalk Nyquist in 2016?

Justify would like to run in a similar manner to the way he did in the Derby. We've been running him into shape, and [the Kentucky Derby] was probably his hardest race.

"We knew he was something special from Day 1".

It was drizzling when Justify arrived at Pimlico, and rainy weather is in the forecast through Saturday's race, with the chances ranging from a low of 90 percent on Thursday and Saturday to 100 percent on Friday.

Like the Derby, The Preakness is laced in its own rich history.

I yield to the wisdom of the crowd, but would recommend also using Bravazo in the exotics. So the wet track will not hurt his chances, and he will breaking from post 7.

Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame horse trainer who led Justify to his Kentucky Derby win earlier this month, loves to listen to Post Malone.

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.



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