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Las Virgenes Stakes
Mike Smith celebrates aboard Justify in the fog after the 2018 Preakness
The $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) is the second jewel in the Triple Crown. A field of 8 three-year-olds contested the 143nd renewal of this 1 3/16 mile classic around two turns at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, before 134,487 in attendance, who braved rain through the card and unseasonably cool temperatures all day. Dense fog rolled in as the mercury dipped to 63 degrees when the field went to post. After 7 inches of rain over 4 days, the main track was rated sloppy but sealed.
As expected, undefeated Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Justify was sent off as the 2-5 favorite. In to challenge him included 4-1 second choice Good Magic, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Blue Grass (G2) before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby, and 13-1 third choice Lone Sailor, 8th in the Kentucky Derby after finishing second in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
Justify leads while Bravazo rallies on the outside in the stretch.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Justify Smith 2.80 2.80 2.60 8 Bravazo Saez 7.60 4.80 6 Tenfold Santana 6.80 Winning Time: 1:55.93 $1 Exacta 7-8 13.70 $2 Trifecta 7-8-6 148.30 $1 Superfecta 7-8-6-5 372.50 $1 Super High Five 7-8-6-5-3 1,370.20 $2 BES-Preakness Double 4-7 13.20
Left: Justify in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Mike Smith celebrating just his second Preakness win said, "It's unbelievable. It's a dream come true, to be honest with you. It's been 25 years since I was blessed to win my first one, which was here, and to go into it with Bob and [wife] Jill and the whole crew, WinStar and China Horse Club and everyone who's involved, Jack Wolf, I'm just so blessed to be riding for these people right now. I'm on cloud nine."
Right: Justify heads back to the barn. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "It was a nail-biter. They put it to us. That was a good horse [Good Magic] and it was like they had their own private match race. Somebody had to give, and I'm glad it wasn't us. I'm so happy that we got it done. He's just a great horse, to handle all that pressure and keep on running. He had to really work for it and I'm happy for the horse and Mike and all the connections that we pulled it out. They ran fast; I've never had one run that fast here. It took a lot out of me but I'm just glad everybody came to see a good horse race. It was a great horse race. Good Magic, I tip my hat to him. He made us really work. He's a really good horse."
Left: The trophy celebration with co-owners Kenny Troutt (right) and Teo Ah Khing of China Horse Club (left). Troutt said of the fog, "Really what got me more than anything is when they turned for home and all of the sudden I couldn't see him. That scared me to death." WinStar CEO Elliott Walden added, "It seemed like an eternity, but when they went into the fog, I was like, 'Where are they? Where are they?' Just the anticipation of them coming out, and you knew when they went in that he was in front, so you were hoping to see those white silks coming out."
Right: Justify walks over from the barn before the race. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "What we're going to do is like we did for this race. He has to show us, he has to come out of the race well, and he's got to be training really well. I did the same thing with American Pharoah, all my horses that ran the Triple Crown, they have to be 100 percent. He was blowing today. You could tell he was in a fight the whole way, but we'll just get him back to Kentucky and just — we'll see how he trains."
Left: Justify walks over to the infield after being saddled in the inside paddock. Smith added, "I thought it was [Quip] for a second there it was so foggy, but then when I saw it was Good Magic, I knew we were in for a good horse race early on. I knew he was going to probably push me really early. At that point they were just going to test his fitness, and this is a race he's going to get fit off of."
Right: Justify in the post parade. Smith added, "He got a little tired. This is the hardest race that he's had, but he was also waiting on competition. It was awful loud out there and the track's pretty narrow and he was kind of looking and jumping tracks and doing a few things, but it was a good kind of tired. It was that kind of tired I'm hoping, anyway, and I feel like he'll move forward."
Left: Justify comes back from the test barn after the race. Walden added, "If Justify is meant to do it (win the Triple Crown) it'll happen. And if not, it just won't."
Right: Justify poses in the barn after the race. Co-owner Teo Ah Khing of China Horse Club said the race was the "longest race of my life. Waiting for 20 second without seeing the result, it was like years."
Left: Second place finisher Bravazo heads over to the infield walking ring after saddling in the indoor paddock. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, "What I saw of it, I liked a lot. I want them to extend it another 50 yards. He was running on at the end. ... A very good horse won the race, a very good horse. We ran at him. We kept him honest just like we said we would."
Right: Third place finisher Tenfold in the post parade. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "We were three-quarters of a length away from where we want to be, so let's figure out how to get it. Heck yes (we're going to the Belmont)."
First time by in the fog with Justify pressed by Good Magic. Jockey Jose Ortiz aboard eventual 4th place finisher Good Magic said, "Mike (Smith) broke very well as we expected and he stayed in the middle of the track which I knew he was going to do. I tried to take back a little but the pace wasn't too fast. He was relaxed but Mike was just sitting chilly on his horse. We were going very easy. I made my run the same time he did, but I didn't have horse underneath me." Trainer Chad Brown added, "The post didn't help. We were inside [Justify] the whole way. Unfortunately, our horse took the worst of it being on the fence and getting pressed the whole way. He's just not a horse that runs on the lead, so I'm pretty disappointed. He didn't give up. I know this horse very well and he's not a horse to be on the lead."
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