Favorite Justify finishes first at Kentucky Derby

Posted May 06, 2018

Twenty horses will meet on the track at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

He will take the next step in pursuit of the triple crown when he races in the Preakness Stakes on May 19.

Those sparkling results combined with a no less glittering entourage that includes Baffert, who has put four horses in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle and veteran jockey Mike Smith, in the irons when 50-1 longshot Giacomo came home first in 2005, have made Justify the early 3-1 favorite.

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He returned to the US and helped found the Kentucky Derby, which commenced its first race in 1875.

The more I look at this race, the more it feels like Mendelssohn will either win it running away or not be a factor in the finish at all. He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park on January 13, won by 4 1/2 furlongs in a six-furlong race and has not been challenged yet.

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Mendelssohn was an 18 ½-length victor of the UAE Derby. Then in March, he won easily on a muddy track before taking his biggest prize yet, the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, in April.

"There are so many other things that can go wrong I don't even worry about that", said Baffert, who will watch Justify break from the seventh post position. But he's apparently at his best up front, and there will be plenty challenging him there. "He's special", he told WAVE last month.

Justify is this year's favorite at 3-1 odds and will be running out of the seventh gate. And horses coming over from Dubai after the UAE Derby? Thus, he became the first rider to win the Kentucky Derby twice in a row.

Mendelssohn, the European-trained colt that was a 6-1 favorite, struggled and finished last in the 20-horse field. According to Arthur Ashe in "Days of Grace", in the world of horse racing, "racism destroyed a tradition so effectively that most people, black or white, probably assume that blacks had never been a part of the Run for the Roses".

But Baffert wasn't anxious about him. "Some of the tougher horses in the race are fairly lightly raced".