Justify wins 144th Kentucky Derby, makes history on muddy track

Blanche Robertson
May 6, 2018

Spectators craned their necks to get a look whenever the massive chestnut colt was on the track. I've just been blessed to have horses stay healthy and get here.

The rain has not let up all Saturday for the Kentucky Derby. He's a bona fide superstar.

Mike Smith, at 52 the second-oldest winning jockey in the Kentucky Derby, celebrates after riding Justify to victory. He also won this event in 2015 with Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, as well as wins in 1997 (Silver Charm), 1998 (Real Quiet), and War Emblem (2002).

Justify's trainer, Bob Baffert, was confident the curse would finally die before the race started. Justify becomes the sixth consecutive favorite to win the Derby. "I also saw Hard Spun, Good Magic's broodmare sire, finish second that day, so she just said think positive, because he's bred for it".

"I'm so proud of my whole team, and WinStar [Farm] and China Horse Club to trust me with this horse, but I just kept a great horse. It took a great horse to do what he did today". "I'm really fortunate to have a horse like this".

"If I was [jockey] Mike Smith I'd feel a lot more pressure", Baffert said. A consistent downpour had turned the track into a muddy soup, but that didn't stop Justify from sweeping to the front and sitting just off pacesetter Promises Fulfilled.

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Getting a clean break from the No. 7 post position, Justify pressed a very fast pace through a half-mile in 45.77 seconds. Mendelssohn, purchased for $3 million as a yearling, finished last in the 20-horse file, 53¼ lengths behind the victor, Justify.

"We are deeply grateful to all the fans of the Kentucky Derby around the world who once again made this an wonderful and memorable experience", said Churchill chief executive officer Bill Carstanjen in a statement. "He's a super horse". When you have these horses like that, they're like humans. "They took a chance". This horse is just.

Justify won his career debut on February 18 at Santa Anita under 23-year-old Drayden Van Dyke.

After winning his fifth Derby, with little drama in the race from start to finish, Baffert said, "It hasn't sunk in".

In an impressive performance, Justify confidently handled a strong Bolt d'Oro, beating his rival by 3-lenghts to return $3.80 as the slight 4-5 odds favorite. He is so above average, he's got unbelievable talent and he's got a mind to go with it. The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday.

"I can't describe how special this horse is - my vocabulary doesn't have the words for it". Sign me up for the next four Derbies if things can go this smoothly. There's no way. He's going to lay down. "It's insane. For such a young horse, he is so big and talented". You better win a championship with him.

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