Kentucky Derby winner Justify has drawn gate seven for the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore where he will attempt the second jewel of US thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Justify won the Derby as the favourite earlier this month and now all eyes will be on whether the Bob Baffert-trained colt can create some intrigue going into the June 9 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Undefeated in four starts, Justify was rated the 1/2 favourite after the draw for the eight-horse field in the 1-3/16-mile (1900m) race at Pimlico.
There were a few concerns when Jusify’s flight to Baltimore was delayed on Wednesday but Baffert said all was OK.
“It went really smooth. No hiccups,” he said.
“We were a little bit worried last night because the plane was delayed … but the horse shipped well and was full of himself when he got off the van.”
Baffert is seeking a record-tying seventh Preakness victory, having previously won with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), Lookin At Lucky (2010), War Emblem (2002), Point Given (2001), Real Quiet (1998), and Silver Charm (1997).
Justify will be flanked by Tenfold (20-1) on his left and Bravazo (20-1), who finished sixth at the Derby, on his right.
Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic drew barrier five for his rematch with Justify and was rated the second pick for the Preakness at 3-1.
This will be the fourth consecutive year that the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby have a rematch in the Preakness. In each of the past two years, the Derby runner-up finished ahead of the Derby winner in the Preakness.
A repeat of the sloppy track that greeted the 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby seems likely on Saturday with showers and thunderstorms expected in Baltimore this weekend.