Justify claims Preakness, eyes Triple Crown


A fan falls back into a puddle of mud during in the infield prior to the running of the 143rd Preakness Steaks at Pimlico Race Course.

A victory in the Belmont Stakes in NY on June 9 would earn trainer Bob Baffert his second US thoroughbred racing Triple Crown in four years after American Pharoah achieved the feat in 2015.

"If the state - and obviously I say city and state because I don't believe the city can do it either - if the state believed that there was a commitment that needed to be done through the [Maryland] Stadium Authority or something, obviously that's something that we would consider", Ritvo said.

This will be the fourth consecutive year the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby have a rematch in the Preakness.

Justify trainer Bob Baffert has now claimed seven Preakness victories, equaling R.W. Walden for most by a trainer. "We'll see how he trains", Baffert said. "He's just a great horse to handle all that pressure and keep on running".

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Bravazo finished second while Tenfold got third.

Brown is well aware of the challenge awaiting Good Magic and jockey Jose Ortiz in taking down Justify, who is undefeated in four starts. "Although it was a half a length, I certainly could've got after him a whole lot more a little earlier and made him do a little more, as well".

That nearly happened to Justify, who won his first four races by a combined 21 1/2 lengths.

With Mike Smith aboard, Justify went the 1 3/16th-mile race in 1 minute, 55.93 seconds.

"He got a little exhausted", Smith said. Today, the course was muddy, and the fog was so thick it was hard to even see the race at points.

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Trainer Bob Baffert, who also trained 2015 Triple Crown victor American Pharoah, won his 14th classic race, tying D. Wayne Lukas for most all-time.

As for his chances of joining American Pharoah as a Triple Crown victor, Baffert remains optimistic.

Baffert has never lost the middle jewel of the Triple Crown after winning the Derby with Silver Charm, Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and now Justify having done the double. Baffert is 5 for 5 at the Preakness after winning the Derby on May 5. "I'm just glad, I'm happy for the horse, Mike (Smith) and all the connections, and we pulled it out".

"I think change is coming, and it will be for the better", said Tim Ritvo, COO of track operator The Stronach Group, which also runs nearby Laurel Park, with the latter the company's desired future location for the Preakness.

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