In a steady rain that would not give in all afternoon, the son of Scat Daddy triumphed over a sloppy racetrack in America's greatest race in just his fourth career race. He gunned Justify out of the No. 7 spot in the starting gate - something Baffert said had to happen - and the colt's early speed helped hook leader Promises Fulfilled from the start. "If you have LeBron, you'd better win a championship with him".
Smith, the second-oldest jockey to win, said that the race had gone very much to plan. I keep using the term 'above average, ' because he has a mind to him as well.
"This track had me anxious, but you just saw a great performance".
A 136-year-old curse was also broken by Justify in his win - since 1882, no horse who hadn't raced as a 2-year-old had won the Kentucky Derby. After he faced all of 14 opponents in his first three races and had a ridiculously easy trip in the GI Santa Anita Derby, they held his feet to the fire yesterday and he didn't blink. His first race was on February 18, just 79 short days ago.
Instead, it turned out to be the wettest Derby Day ever, with more than three inches of rain making life miserable for all the julep-swillers who had spent small fortunes on Derby outfits. Because the Bob Baffert-trained Justify has been on the West Coast, Lucarelli still hasn't met him.
Baffert now trails only Ben Jones (six Derby wins). He paid $7.80, $6 and $4.40. Skeptics argued that he did it against a smaller field, by dictating the pace and without encountering traffic.
Justify was the heavy favorite for the 2018 Derby, with 3-1 odds. "He was one of the only horses to make a good, late run".
"My job was just to get him out of there", he said. "I did my part. But it reminded me of when Keyed Entry had the lead at the top of the stretch and finished last".
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Entering the final turn, Justify took the lead and kept on going to the finish under Smith's left-handed whip.
He fretted when wife Jill pulled out a lovely green dress for Saturday's races. "I was leaking really bad". "I was preparing myself for a loss". Baffert, 65, also is only one win behind Lukas for most victories in the Triple Crown series.
"But you always leave here learning something for what it takes". Horses just don't run as many times leading into the Derby as they used to. Good Magic posed a threat.
Good Magic finished second and returned $9.20 and $6.60.
Baffert will saddle Justify two weeks from today in the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.
He had won all of them, but winning at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, against 19 other competitors was a completely different story.
Justfiy ran like a colt primed to extend the streak.