• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

WinStar's Justify earns a gutsy win at Preakness

WinStar farm's Justify kept his Triple Crown bid alive with a win in the fog at the Preakness Stakes May 19. The track at Pimlico Race Course was sloppy, and the fog rolled in on cue as the horses paraded to the starting gate. The Derby winner held off Good Magic for more than a mile and then outlasted Bravazo who was second, and Tenfold who was third down the stretch. The Preakness win was Justify's third win on a sloppy track.

The Preakness race caller Larry Collums shouted “Not even the fog could stop him” as Justify crossed the finish line beating Bravazo by a half-length. With the Belmont Stakes being the only thing that stands between Justify and immortality, Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith, 52, says he is grateful for the opportunity to ride a champion horse at this stage of his career. “At my age, man, what a way to ride off into the sunset, although I don’t plan on retiring any time soon,” said Smith. “I don’t think I got that opportunity at a young age because I don’t think I was ready for it. Although right now I am. I’m at peace. I can’t wait to get to the next stage.” Justify is owned by WinStar Farm in Versailles in a partnership with Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and the China Horse Club. The group acquired the chestnut colt in 2016 at the Keeneland September sale and was bred by John and Tanya Gunther of Glenwood Farm in Woodford County. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert smiled when he said that the race probably wore him out more than the horse. “It's a lot of pressure,” said Baffert. “We may not show it, because we've been through this before, but we hide it pretty well.” With one more race and undoubtedly one more downpour, Justify has one-and-a-half miles to secure himself as a legend.

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