Justify captures the 144th Kentucky Derby (G1) under jockey Mike Smith (c) Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com
Justify moved his record to a perfect four-for-four on Saturday when taking the 144th running of the $2,192,000 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Over a sloppy, sealed track, the chestnut son of Scat Daddy tracked outside the pacesetting Promises Fulfilled on the backstretch, took over rounding the bend and repelled a strong threat from champion Good Magic to score by 2 1/2 lengths.
Justify was sent off the near 3-1 favorite in the 1 1/4-mile affair, paying $7.80 for the win while stopping the clock in 2:04.20.
Good Magic just held second by a head over the fast-closing Audible, who in turn had 1 3/4 lengths to spare over Instilled Regard in fourth. My Boy Jack came next and was followed by Bravazo, Hofburg, Lone Sailor, Vino Rosso, Solomini, Firenze Fire, Bolt d’Oro, Flameaway, Enticed, Promises Fulfilled, Free Drop Billy, Noble Indy, Combatant, Magnum Moon and Mendelssohn.
Justify was making his first start outside of Santa Anita Park in the Kentucky Derby. The Bob Baffert trainee began his career on February 18, breaking his maiden by 9 1/2 lengths, then captured an allowance/optional claimer and his stakes bow in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his next pair.
Campaigned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm, Justify overcame the Apollo curse with his win in the Kentucky Derby. Apollo was the winner of the 1882 Run for the Roses and the last to have scored without competing as a two-year-old.
Bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, Justify has racked up $2,098,000 in career earnings. He is out of the Grade 3-placed Ghostzapper mare Stage Magic and counts as a half-brother stakes runner-up The Lieutenant, who just finished third in the Californian Stakes (G2) last Saturday. The pair’s third dam is Grade 3 heroine Voodoo Lily, and this female line also boasts Grade 2 victress Spellbound and multiple Grade 3 conqueror Kid Cruz.