• 66°

Justify draws No. 7 post, is heavy favorite at Preakness

By Stephen Whyno

AP Sports Writer

BALTIMORE (AP) — Having the Preakness favorite has never bothered Bob Baffert before and it doesn’t bother him with Justify.

Coming off an impressive victory in the Kentucky Derby , Justify is the 1-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s second race in a field of eight horses. Derby runner-up Good Magic is the second choice at 3-1, but Justify is the horse to beat with the chance to give Baffert his seventh Preakness winner and a shot at a second Triple Crown in four years after American Pharoah did it in 2015.

Baffert is 4-0 in the Preakness with the Derby winner and doesn’t see any reason Justify doesn’t have another big run in him.

“I like being the favorite,” Baffert said Wednesday. “I don’t want to be 50-1. I like knowing that I have a chance to win. When you come in and you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t know, we’re going to need the Stanford marching band to interfere a little bit,’ then you don’t feel that well. I just feel that when you know that there’s a chance you can pull this off and when you can win on the big arena, that’s what it’s all about.”

Justify already won on horse racing’s biggest stage when he held off a hard-charging Good Magic to capture the Derby on a muddy track at Churchill Downs. Rain is expected at Pimlico Race Course in the days leading up to the Preakness and on race day, which could set up a similar scenario to how jockey Mike Smith took Justify out to the lead before the final turn and pulled away.

“I think it’s less pressure for us because the Kentucky Derby, for me, it was so special,” Baffert said. “Coming in here I feel the same as I did when I won it with the other ones.”

Baffert won the Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, War Emblem in 2002 and American Pharoah three years ago.

Justify will face three other challengers from the Derby — Good Magic, Lone Sailor and Bravazo — and four horses who skipped it to point to the Preakness — Quip, Tenfold, Sporting Chance and Diamond King.

After Justify and Good Magic, No. 1 Quip is third at 12-1. No. 2 Lone Sailor is 15-1, No. 6 Tenfold and No. 8 Bravazo are 20-1 and No. 3 Sporting Chance and No. 4 Diamond King are 30-1 on the morning line.

If Justify runs his best race, the rest of the field could be running for second place.

“He’s the best horse,” said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Bravazo and Sporting Chance. “He looks terrific, he’s doing well. I watched him all week. He’s going to be very, very hard to handle.”

Quip is the new shooter best positioned to give Justify a run after winning the Tampa Bay Derby. Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, which co-owns Justify and Quip, showed his allegiance at the draw by wearing a “Justify” hat and hopes the favorite wins for obvious reasons.

“It would point him toward the Triple Crown,” Walden said. “But if for some reason he stubs his toe, we feel real good about Quip’s chances to be the horse to upset him, if that happens.”

The odds are against that, unless a bruised heel Justify was treated for acts up after training on an off track at Pimlico. He arrived Wednesday about 90 minutes before the post-position draw, and Baffert expects to take him on the track for the first time Thursday morning to see how he’ll handle it.

Comments

Elections

Local Democrats call to ‘turn the state blue’ during virtual office reopening

Education

Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year

Business

China Grove soap store sets sights on expansion into Kannapolis

News

Charlotte, UNC game canceled after 49ers place players in quarantine

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 18

Coronavirus

County sees ninth COVID-19 death this week, more than 30 cases reported

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces schools can move K-5 to plan A; school board vote needed locally

Local

Wet weather brings crashes, traffic to standstill on interstate

Crime

Salisbury man victim of Facebook scam, duped out of $2,000

Crime

Two charged after fight outside Salisbury home

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools ships out thousands of old devices for refurbishing

Education

Caught in the infodemic: NC school policies frustrated by scientific challenges

East Spencer

East Spencer to hold community day, provide free food, supplies

Education

Shoutouts

Landis

Landis officials provide plan for COVID-19 funds, discuss town’s financial position

Education

Blattner brought technology into schools before it was cool

Education

State has slight decline in SAT scores

Local

New environmental specialists begin work on backlog soil evaluations

Local

Friends, colleagues say Seay left his mark on Rowan judicial system

Elections

Rep. Howard says ‘still work to be done’ as she seeks 17th term in House

Nation/World

Trump disputes health officials, sees mass vaccinations soon

Nation/World

‘Nothing left in the bucket’: Wildfire resources run thin

Nation/World

At least 1 dead, hundreds rescued after Hurricane Sally

Crime

Blotter: Sheriff’s Office seeking information in shootout