Justify is the heavy favorite heading into the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
While it’s a field of eight horses, it’s expected to be a two-horse race: Justify and Good Magic.
Justify is a 1-2 favorite for the Preakness. The Kentucky Derby winner drew the seventh post in Saturday’s race — the same post he had at the Derby.
Good Magic drew the fifth post and is the second pick at 3-1. Good Magic finished 2-1/2 lengths behind Justify two weeks ago at Churchill Downs.
This will be the fourth consecutive year the top-two finishers in the Kentucky Derby have a rematch in the Preakness. In the last two years, the Derby runner-up finished ahead of the Derby winner in the Preakness.
Justify ran an impressive race in the mud at Churchill Downs on May 5. Conditions will be similar in Baltimore — it has rained all week, and more on race day would make for another sloppy track.
Justify had a bruised heel more than a week ago, and The Associated Press reports there are concerns it “could get irritated from a couple of days working out in mud and how the surface might complicate the start.”
The AP reports: “Trainer Bob Baffert is happy that the bruise on Justify’s left hind foot hasn’t bothered the colt during his morning workouts at Pimlico since arriving Wednesday. If Justify breaks clean and gets over the 1-3/16 mile race with no discomfort in that heel, even the strongest competitors are likely running for second.”
The strong showing expected from Justify energizes this year’s talk of a Triple Crown winner. The last was American Pharoah in 2015.
Both of those horses have something in common: Hall of Fame trainer Baffert. Earlier this week, he told TMZ that Justify is a “superior” animal to American Pharoah.
When it comes to the second leg of the Triple Crown, Baffert has experience on his side. He has won the Preakness six times — including with all four of his previous Derby winners. The third leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes on June 9.
Post time for the Preakness is 6:48 p.m. ET, and it will be broadcast on NBC stations.