(Justify, undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby, will be a huge favorite for this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
This Saturday’s Preakness Stakes has lost about 12 horses from the mammoth field that makes up the 20-horse Kentucky Derby. It has lost, or so it appears, all of the Todd Pletcher contingency, which was four-strong in the “Run for the Roses” just two weeks ago — including the ultra-talented New York-bred Audible. It has lost the fabulous Bolt d’Oro, who began this year as the Kentucky Derby winner’s arch nemeses on the Left Coast.
But it has not lost any luster. Or muster.
Not yet, any way.
In what may be the best rematch of the year to date, and what could turn out to be the rivalry that horse lovers and handicappers enjoy the most, both Kentucky Derby winner Justify and Derby runner-up Good Magic are being pointed to the third Saturday in May and historic Pimlico Racecourse for the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes.
While the rest of the prospective field may pale in comparison, there is no denying that the two 3-year-old colts that are headlining the second jewel of racing’s most sought-after prize — the Triple Crown — are now the best in the business of 3-year-old colts in the free world.
And, this race — as of today — is shaping up to be a Classic Classic.
On Sunday, the Derby winner and still undefeated Justify — under the careful eye of Assistant Grainer Jimmy Barnes — galloped 11/2 miles after schooling in the gate. On Monday, the big chestnut colt was walked to the track by the head man himself, trainer Bob Baffert.
For all the world to see, the colt looked and acted like a zillion dollars — with the taxes already paid.
“He put in a normal gallop,” Barnes said on Sunday. “Once we got out of the gate we jogged down the stretch and galloped a normal 1 ½ miles.”
Although much was made of the colt having a bit of soreness in his left hand hoof on the day after the Derby, there does not appear to be any lingering issues with the son of Scat Daddy — who became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby without having made a single start as a 2YO in over 134 years.
Good Magic, on the other hand, was moved to trainer Chad Brown’s home base at Belmont Park in New York soon after the Derby. After he bounced out of the 11/4-mile, sloppy Kentucky Derby in fine fettle, Brown announced that his steed would indeed give Justify another round of tries. He has already been shipped to Pimlico and will jog and gallop up to the race on Saturday.
The media team at Pimlico caught up with Brown this week.
|Rank||Horse||Sire||Trainer||Jockey||Last Start||Next Start||Comment|
|1||Justify||Scat Daddy||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith||1st in Kentucky Derby||Preakness Stakes||As advertised / Dominant in victory to win KY Derby and snap the “Apollo Curse” string at 134 years|
|2||Good Magic||Curlin||Chad Brown||Junior Ortiz||2nd in Kentucky Derby||Preakness Stakes||Game throughout; made several runs; just couldn’t get by the winner|
|3||Quip||Distorted Humor||Rodolphe Brisset||Florent Geroux||2nd in Arkansas Derby||Preakness Stakes||Winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, ran game 2nd to Magnum Moon in the Ark. Derby/Loves the front|
|4||Lone Sailor||Majestic Warrior||Tom Amoss||Irad Oritz, Jr.||8th in Kentucky Derby||Preakness Stakes||Ran huge in the G2 Louisiana Derby, second to Noble Indy/Came from far back in KY Derby/Finally, a good rider|
|5||Tenfold||Curlin||Steve Asmussen||John Velazquez||5th in Arkansas Derby||Preakness Stakes||Won first two career starts/Stalked wide before fading in Arkansas Derby/Huge leap in class, faith|
|5||Bravazo||Awesome Again||D. Wayne Lukas||Luis Contreras||6th in Kentucky Derby||Preakness Stakes||Had a wide trip, but was able to move up and run better than most expected|
|6||Sporting Chance||Tiznow||D. Wayne Lukas||TBD||4th in Pat Day Mile||Preakness Stakes||Quirky sort, who has veered radically at the end of some races/Refused to breeze on Sunday/Question?|
|7||Diamond King||Quality Road||John Servis||Javier Castellano||1st in Federico Tesio Stakes||Preakness Stakes||Won the Tesio at Laurel on 4-21, but the 3rd in the Swale Stakes to Strike Power may be best/Stalker|
|8||Givemeaminit||Star Guitar||Dallas Stewart||Corey Lanerie||3rd in Pat Day Mile||Questionmark||LA-bred is a bit inconsistent, but did run 3rd in the Hopeful and 4th in BC Juvenile last year/Really?|