Justify will face seven challengers in his bid to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown. That statistic likely means very little, but it just might suggest that for a Derby runner-up to turn the tables on the victor he has to utilize a different strategy.
But, as Lukas points out, you not only need a tough horse physically in these Triple Crown races, but one that is mentally strong as well.
A new shooter - a horse which runs in one of the two remaining Triple Crown races after passing up the Derby - has won the Preakness four times since 2000. He readily compares the two.
"He got around there very easily", trainer Bob Baffert said.
Not that Justify needed wiggle room from the time he began his tear with a 9 ½-length romp at seven furlongs in his February 18 debut at Santa Anita to his convincing 2 ½-length score against 2-year-old champion Good Magic in the 1 ¼-mile Derby at Churchill Downs.
I had the Derby exacta: Justify and Good Magic 1-2.
After spending a relaxing week-and-a-half in Louisville following his 2 ½-length victory over Good Magic in the Derby, Justify was accompanied by Preakness contenders Lone Sailor and Quip on the flight to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Bravazo, one of two horses saddled by 82-year-old D.Wayne Lukas, will break from the outside eighth post and was priced at 20-1. But the payout would only be $150 at his current 1-2 odds, and it would make for a pretty short column.
"For the most part, I would say that's true", Zipse said.
Baffert's record in the Preakness is considerably better than Smith's, though.
The final Triple Crown victor was American Pharoah in 2015 - additionally saddled by Corridor of Fame coach Baffert.
A game second to Justify in the Derby, Chad Brown's horse was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion and has looked great in workouts since arriving at Pimlico.
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"We took it a few" times before, Baffert said. "With him, think he's doing the same". For UK viewers, At The Races will have you covered.
He is the most likely victor, despite the rainy weather forecast for the Baltimore area.
"The track is not a big concern for Justify", Zipse said.
Justify has already dealt with quite a bit, breaking the Apollo Curse by winning the country's most famous horse race in only his fourth career start. So for his first time around the surface, Justify turned in an easy gallop. The outside post will give Smith the opportunity to assess how speed develops inside.
Smith said he lost sleep thinking about the race, "but in a good way". I don't want to be 50-1. Good Magic and Audible both impressed in the stretch to finish in second and third, respectively, but never threatened the leader. Brisset left his home at 14 to become a jockey, but eventually "got too heavy" and wound up being brought to Saratoga by family friend Julien Leparoux, an exercise rider who eventually also became a jockey.
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