CRAWFORD | Justify to encounter new cast of challengers in the Preakness
Justify won't see many familiar faces when he arrives for the Preakness Stakes next week. At most, three other Kentucky Derby starters are expected to be a part of the field.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Justify is chilling out, trainer Bob Baffert’s words, not mine, in Churchill Downs Barn No. 33 (or double-triple, if you’d rather) as he awaits a trip to Pimlico and the Preakness Stakes next week.
Baffert likened the skin condition that appeared to be causing Justify some discomfort in his brief appearance in front of reporters Sunday morning to a “diaper rash” and said Monday, “It was sensitive there,” before adding, “He looked fine today.”
Justify is expected to ship to Pimlico next Tuesday for a race that Baffert has never lost when bringing in a Derby winner. He’s won the race six times overall.
When Justify does arrive in the stakes barn at Pimlico, he’s likely to see few familiar faces. Most of his 19 competitors in the Kentucky Derby will skip the Preakness, a practice becoming more common by the year. Only 12 Derby horses have started the past three editions of the Preakness.
One notable exception, if he were to run, would be Chad Brown’s 2-year-old champion Good Magic, who ran a solid second to Justify in the Kentucky Derby. His sire, Curlin, won the Preakness after coming up short in the Derby, but Brown’s immediate concern was for his colt. He said he’ll take him to Belmont Park and make an assessment of whether he wants to run him in the Preakness.
Brown won last year’s Preakness with a “new shooter,” Cloud Computing, who did not run in the Kentucky Derby. Still, Good Magic’s status can be listed as only “possible” at best.
The only Derby starter who looks definitely headed into the Preakness field is Bravazo, who finished sixth in the Derby for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who, like Baffert, is a six-time winner of the Preakness.
Another Derby starter, Lone Sailor, will get some Preakness consideration from trainer Tom Amoss.
“We’ll see how he trains and make a decision off of that,” he said. “Whether it should be the Preakness or something else, I don’t know. (The Preakness) is not out of the question.”
So who else will take a shot at knocking off Justify in the Preakness?
Lukas also is expected to saddle Sporting Chance in the race. Sporting Chance is winless in four starts at three after winning the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga to close out his 2-year-old campaign.
Quip, who earned enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby but was deemed to be not ready by his connections, is expected to start in the Preakness for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Quip won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and finished second to Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby.
Quip’s situation is interesting, because he, like Justify, is also owned by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club. They’d be running a challenger to their own Triple Crown hopeful, but outside Baffert’s barn on Sunday, WinStar president Elliott Walden didn’t seem concerned about that.
“My first inclination is to go ahead and run him,” Walden said. “But we need to talk to our partners and see. We’d set the horse up to run in the Preakness and he worked very well on Thursday. If Justify is supposed to win the Triple Crown, he’ll beat Quip. I just think you try to manage your horses the best you can, and it’s the right thing for Quip.”
Also expected is Steve Asmussen’s Tenfold. Another son of Curlin, who was trained by Asmussen, was third in the Arkansas Derby in his third career start after winning his first two career races at Oaklawn Park.
The Preakness notes team also reports that Diamond King, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes, will run in the Preakness.
That would leave the race with six solid possibilities, including Justify. Lone Sailor would make it seven. If Chad Brown decides to send Good Magic, the race gets a bit more interesting. Still, the race can take 14 entries, which begs the question: Who else will want to take a shot at the Kentucky Derby winner?
PREAKNESS POSSIBLE STARTERS
STILL UNDER CONSIDERATION
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