The field and the post positions for this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes are now set. The field is small, only eight runners, split between four Derby veterans and four “new shooters.” Here it is:
- Quip (Qualified for the Derby, connections opted not to run)
- Lone Sailor (Kentucky Derby 8th)
- Sporting Chance (DQ’ed to 4th in Bluegrass S.)
- Diamond King (Federico Tesio S. winner)
- Good Magic (Kentucky Derby 2nd)
- Tenfold (5th Arkansas Derby)
- Justify (Kentucky Derby winner)
- Bravazo (Kentucky Derby 6th)
Kentucky Derby Champion Justify could not have drawn better. His primary competition, Good Magic, is to his inside where jockey Mike Smith can monitor how he breaks and where he is at the start of the race and act accordingly. Honestly, I expect another sharp break from Mike and Justify (the move in the Derby that trainer Bob Baffert said must happen for Justify to have a chance, and indeed, it proved to be the winning move in the race as Justify encountered no traffic problems at all) and for him to be on or near the lead. I have seen all of the horses in race run at least once; outside of Justify and Good Magic, none of them made that memorable of an impression on me.
As far as my impressions of this year’s Kentucky Derby, I didn’t write a review because I honestly didn’t have the superlatives to describe Justify’s superior and outstanding performance, especially under such adverse racing conditions. For the record, it was the wettest Kentucky Derby in history, and to be fair, it likely hampered some contenders’ chances as not many of the colts had encountered an off track until that day. Still, the ease with which Justify ran is indicative, in part, of what a special horse he is.
As I had said previously, my only concern about him going into the Derby was his lack of racing experience. And I’m old school enough to still maintain that racing, even if only one time as a two year old is important in developing a Triple Crown/Classic-caliber racehorse. The fact that Justify could win the Derby handily coupled with his beautifully efficient stride shows he’s the special exception to the rule. Win, lose or draw Saturday, in my opinion Justify is an exceptional, one-of-a-kind colt.
NOW, full disclosure, the morning after the Derby, Justify had a bruised left hind heel/hoof. For those of you familiar with horses, when they move on/off a bruised hoof it looks pretty awful. Fortunately, by all accounts, this was a minor issue, quickly resolved. Watching his works since that Sunday morning he looks fine, he’s eating well, and all systems appear to be go for him to rock and roll Saturday. Further disclosure, it’s raining in Baltimore today (Wednesday); it’s supposed to continue to rain tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. Do with that what you will.
Me? I think Justify wins.
Post time Saturday is 6:48 EDT on NBC.
Safe trips for all and enjoy.