BALTIMORE (AP) – Justify is talking about Pimlico Race Course and the horse racing industry with a very real chance to win the Triple Crown.
But he has some notable challengers in the Preakness. It's not the 19 he beat in the Kentucky Derby, but the eight-horse field is not child's play.
"It's tough," said coach Bob Baffert. "We have good magic that I have a lot of respect for, he's a champion, he's following us, he's with us, and then you have Quip, he's a really good horse, he's fast."
Baffert also does not want to count the two horses of the veteran D. Wayne Lukas. Chances are a few can count out, but here's a look at the leading contenders:
He's the horse to beat as the favorite 1-2 morning line for a reason after winning his first four races through a combined 21 1/2 lengths, including the Kentucky Derby in the same slop that Saturday could await. Baffert is 4-0 with the Derby winners in the Preakness, so he knows how to handle the two-week turnaround.
"They reached their peak at the right time," said Baffert. "And that's what the derby winner usually is – a horse that's peaking, and they train well, they came out of the race well, with him, he thinks he does the same."
A second Justify game in the Derby, Chad Brown's horse was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Champion and has been doing well in workouts since arriving at Pimlico. Good magic is the 3-1 second choice because he has shown he can hang with Justify and maybe this time he will have an extra kick to reach him on the track.
Intrigue, your name is Quip, the Tampa Bay Derby winner who skipped the Run for the Roses to rest for the Preakness. The best of the new horses finished second in the Arkansas Derby and is 12-1 for Rodolphe Brisset, who coached Justify.
"He's a lightweight horse we wanted to do better in the five weeks," said Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, who owns Quip. "We feel he could have run in the Kentucky Derby, but we wanted to give him the chance to catch up on himself."
Bravazo is one of Luke's two horses, along with Sporting Chance, 12-1 after sixth place in the Derby. He stands next to Justify in the starting gates, but the numbers are too late.
"Somebody has to," said Lukas. "I would be next to him as soon as possible, I do not think he will be with him for a long time."
Traffic disruption in the 20-horse Derby was more of a problem for Lone Sailor than the mud, and the # 1 post office is another big challenge. If the runner-up of Louisiana Derby finds a place between the horses, the 15-1 shot is a threat as long as Justify in the first half mile does not secure anything for the track with a slower run.
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