On a sloppy track at Pimlico this evening, Mike Smith and Justify added the second jewel of the Triple Crown to their hats beating out Bravazo and Good Magic at the wire! Trained by the legendary Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Justify (owned by WinStar Farm, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing and China Horse Club) broke well from the gate and moved to an early lead with Good Magic, trained by Chad Brown, falling into stride right beside him. The two quickly turned the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes into a match race, running side by side, stride by stride, along the far side.
As the field turned towards the final stretch, Hall of Fame jockey Smith pushed Justify ahead with Good Magic falling a tad behind. And with the final few furlongs left to go, Justify found himself in company with Bravazo closing fast to finish second at the wire with Tenfold in third. Justify fought hard, and won well. “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 hand to him. He made us really work. He’s a really good horse,” said Baffert.
The win gave Baffert his seventh Preakness winner, putting him in a tie for the most Preakness victories with 19th century trainer Robert Wyndham Walden. This win also was Baffert’s 14th Triple Crown race win, which equals the number of wins fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has.
Smith stated, “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.”
It has been 25 years since Smith’s first Triple Crown race win, which was right here at Preakness aboard Prairie Bayou. “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,” he said.
Black-Eyed Susan Recap
On Friday, the Tiznow filly Red Ruby kept fairly clean on the muddy track at Pimlico to win the 93rd running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Jockey Paco Lopeze moved the filly to the front early on and never gave up the lead. Trained by Kellyn Gorder, the filly is owned by Sandra Sexton, Brandi Nicholson and Steven Nicholson.
And although the Black-Eyed Susan is certainly the richest race on Friday’s card, it was the Pimlico Special that really got the crowd going as Maryland-based Irish War Cry dominated the 1 3/16 mile track to win for owner/breeder Isabelle Haskell de Tomaso. Trained out of the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton by H. Graham Motion, the four-year-old Curlin colt finished second in the Belmont Stakes in 2017. He also won both the Holy Bull Stakes and Wood Memorial last year.