Nearly 3 inches of rain made for sloppy conditions at the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Despite a muddy track that absorbed a Derby-day record three inches of rain and intense downpours as horses were loaded into the starting gates, Justify broke well, starting seventh from the rail and settling into second behind early leader Promises Fulfilled.
Justify had only 3 starts entering the race, but was a 7-2 favorite to win.
"I want (racing) to do well", said trainer Bob Baffert, who won his fifth Derby. It's no easy to task to take a horse who debuted with a win on February 18 in a seven-furlong maiden race and win the Kentucky Derby 76 days later. With AP Photos.European hopeful Mendelssohn never got a chance to make his move in the Kentucky Derby. Good Magic held second, holding off the late bid of Audible by just a head, with 85-1 Instilled Regard almost two lengths farther back in fourth.
"Amazing horse, " Justify's jockey, Mike Smith, said. "We had to get away".
Mendelssohn, trained by Ireland´s Aidan O´Brien and hoping to become the first Europe-based horse to win the Derby, was last in the 20-horse field before 157,813 spectators.
"It takes a lot to keep up with him and then you've got to try and run him down after that". The 2-year-old colt was the favorite going into the race.
After seven years with Lukas, Pletcher went out on his own as a trainer at the end of 1995. Baffert graduated from the University of Arizona's Racetrack Industry Program.a first-in-the nation college curriculum dedicated to the ins and outs of Horse Racing.
We should all take a deep breath before we declare Justify the next Triple Crown victor, but it's awfully tempting to do so. Smith said he knew Justify was something special, and Saturday just proved it to the masses.
"The victor was brilliant", Derby trainer Steve Asmussen said. I mean, they get the credit.
Instilled Regard, an 85-1 shot ridden by Van Dyke, was fourth, followed by 6-1 second choice My Boy Jack, Bravazo and Hofburg. Since then, he's accumulated over 4,500 wins in more than 19,760 starts and earnings in upwards of $359 million. "He was never used to getting that much kickback".
Justify is on his way to becoming a Kentucky Derby favorite, as he recorded a 114 BRIS Speed Figure in the Santa Anita Derby, which is the highest in the six-season history of the Kentucky Derby Points system.
"We are deeply grateful to all the fans of the Kentucky Derby around the world who once again made this an incredible and memorable experience", said Churchill chief executive officer Bill Carstanjen in a statement.