Justify wins Preakness, sets stage for Triple Crown bid

Mike Smith celebrates riding Justify to victory in the Preakness Stakes. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2018

Justify wins Preakness, sets stage for Triple Crown bid

  • Bab Baffert's super horse wins by half a length
  • Justify bidding to becoming 13th Triple Crown winner

WASHINGTON: Kentucky Derby winner Justify battled to a gritty victory in the 143rd Preakness Stakes on Saturday to keep the dream of a 13th Triple Crown winner alive.
Pressed early by Derby runner-up Good Magic at fog-shrouded Pimlico, the Bob Baffert-trained Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, surged in the stretch to triumph by half a length over the late-charging Bravazo.
Tenfold was third as Good Magic faded to fourth.
“Oh man, it was a nail-biter,” said Baffert, whose seventh Preakness victory saw him tie 19th-century horseman R. Wyndham Walden for the all-time record.
Baffert also matched D. Wayne Lukas’s record of 14 victories in the three Triple Crown races — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
It was Baffert who saddled American Pharoah in 2015 when the three-year-old became the first horse in 37 years to complete the coveted treble.
“We’re going to make sure that he comes out of the race well and he trains well,” Baffert said of likely plans to point Justify at the June 9 Belmont — the 1 1/2-mile race dubbed The Test of the Champion.
“He’d have to be training really well.”
Between Affirmed’s Triple Crown sweep in 1978 and American Pharoah’s in 2015, 13 horses won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but were disappointed in the Belmont.
Justify, unraced as a two-year-old, won for the fifth time in five races — all since February. And Baffert said Saturday’s race was his toughest challenge yet.
“It was a hard race today on him — probably the hardest race he’s had,” Baffert said. “But, you know, he’s getting fit. He’s just a wonderful, beautiful horse.”
Justify broke cleanly from the seventh post and quickly moved to the front on a Pimlico track rated sloppy after days of rain in Baltimore.
But Good Magic, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz, was right there, briefly taking the lead on the back stretch as they separated themselves from the rest of the field and making Justify work hard for the lead as they turned into the final straight.
“They put it to us,” Baffert said. “That (Good Magic) was a good horse and it was like they had their own private match race.
“I wasn’t liking it down the backside,” Baffert admitted. “I was like, well, he’s not running there and they’re going to take their big swing. But luckily, this is what makes horse racing so great.”
No sooner had Justify fought off Good Magic than Bravazo, a 15-1 shot trained by Lukas and ridden by Luis Saez, was challenging, along with Tenfold, a 25-1 shot trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
Justify, sent off a 2-5 favorite, held on, completing the 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.93 as a crowd of 134,487 erupted.
“A very good horse won the race, a very good horse,” Lukas said. “We ran at him. We kept him honest ... we’ll see what happens in the next one.”
Smith called it a “dream come true,” acknowledging that his mount “got a little tired.”
Baffert said the fighting finish showed Justify’s true mettle.
“These great horses, they just define themselves when they get in that situation, and today, he just showed not only is he a big, beautiful, gorgeous horse, but he is all racehorse,” Baffert said. “And that’s what it took to win today.”

World Cup live: Saudi Arabia 0 Uruguay 1

Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

World Cup live: Saudi Arabia 0 Uruguay 1

7.36PM: It's the Saudi Arabia fans we can hear in the stadium in Rostov...they believe. And they're urging their Green Falcons on to find this equalizer...


7.28PM: Saudi Arabia are doing their bit to keep the score close, but if we're being honest - this is not the Uruguay team we have come to know and...become acquainted with... over the years.

A poor showing from the South Americans in this World Cup so far, especially as they were many people's "dark horses" for the trophy...

7.20PM: We've had some fantastic games at this World Cup so far, it's safe to say that this is not one of them...both sides seem content with the status quo - Uruguay for the three points, Saudi Arabia to avoid another humiliating defeat...

7.08PM: Into the second half, the game has drifted into the realms of 'midfield stalemate' at this point, but the Saudi Arabia fans are keeping the faith...


6.47PM: HALFTIME - Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0 - something to work with for the Green Falcons. But they must be more clinical in the final third when they manage to get that far up the pitch...

6.39PM: Saudi Arabia trying to wrest back control of this game, especially in the middle of the pitch. Russian fans will be cheering for Uruguay, as if it stays like this, the host nation will qualify for the last-16. They're even showing the match live on the famous Moscow Metro trains...


6.30PM: Uruguay took their time to come into the game, but one lapse at the back from Saudi Arabia and there was Barcelona talisman Suarez to tap it home. Uphill struggle for Saudi Arabia now, who in 120 minutes of football at this World Cup, have had just one shot on target...

6.25PM: GOAL - Luis Suarez scores from a corner with a deft finish, it's his 52nd goal for Uruguay...

6.20PM: Uruguay haven't clicked here so far, and Saudi Arabia are holding their own. They are passing and moving much better than last Thursday and they are stopping any potential Uruguay break from the off. A marked improvement from Pizzi's team...

6.12PM: Phil Neville, former Manchester United and England defender on BBC: "Saudi Arabia have actually started this game very brightly. They had a quick corner that Uruguay weren't prepared for there, but the ball in just lacked quality."

6:08PM: A much brighter start from Saudi Arabia in this game than against Russia, the fans are hopeful of a better Green Falcons showing too...


6:00PM: We're under way - Saudi Arabia must improve from that Russia game, let's see how the fare early on...

5:50PM: All smiles from Saudi players before the game...they're on their way out now in this crucial game, kick-off just a few minutes away...

5.45PM: Saudi Arabia Starting XI: Al-Owais, Al-Breik, Osama Hawsawi, Al Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani, Bahbir, Al-Faraj, Otayf, Al-Jassam, Al Dawsari, Al-Muwallad.

Saudi Arabia make four changes after their 5-0 opening-night hammering against Russia.

Goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf is left out, meaning Mohammed Al-Owais comes in. Elsewhere, Ali Albulayhi starts in the back four, while Hatan Bahbri moves into midfield and Fahad Almuwallad is in to lead the attack.

Pizzi spoke of his "feeling of shame" in the wake of their Russian nightmare. Expect Saudi Arabia to come out with all guns blazing...

5.40PMUruguay Starting XI: Muslera, Varela, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres, Sanchez, Vecino, Bentancur, Rodriguez, Suarez, Cavani.

5.30PM: Just last Thursday, Saudi Arabia were thrashed by Russia. Now in the way of the Green Falcons is Uruguay - who boast one of the most fearsome frontlines in world football in Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez. Everyone believes Uruguay will win, there's no pressure on Juan Antonio Pizzi's men. Can they cause a monumental upset? Join us, to find out...