What Is The Preakness Stakes? Justify Is A Huge Step Closer To Scoring The Triple Crown
On what was otherwise a rainy Saturday, Kentucky Derby champion Justify won the 143th Preakness Stakes by a half-length with a time of 1:55.93 to secure the chance at his trainer's second Triple Crown in four years. Legendary trainer Bob Baffert's last Triple Crown was via American Pharaoh in 2015. The trainer has sent five Derby winning horses to the Preakness and each of them has come out victorious, according to the New York Times.
Ridden by Mike Smith, the Preakness Stakes was Justify's third win on a wet track. Justify won the Kentucky Derby on May 5 amid rain and mud as well, and is the 24th horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, according to CBS Sports. The Associated Press reported that Justify showed no strain on his bruised heel, which had caused some concern among observers after the Kentucky Derby.
"It was a nail-biter," Baffert told CBS Sports of the Saturday race. "They put it to us. It was like they had their own private match race (but I'm) so happy we got it done. Such a great horse to handle all that pressure and get it done."
Justify has a shot at the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes outside of New York City in three weeks. The track is 1.5 miles on a dirt track.
The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is an award for three-year-old Thoroughbreds. The three races - the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont - are run in May and June each year.
A dozen horses have won the award since 1919: Sir Barton in 1919, Gallant Fox in 1930, Omaha in 1935, War Admiral in 1937, Whirlaway in 1941, Count Fleet in 1943, Assault in 1946, Citation in 1948, Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977, Affirmed in 1978, and American Pharaoh in 2015.
Secretariat still holds the records at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, according to ESPN.
Only one trainer has won the Triple Crown races more than once. James Edward "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons won in 1930 with Gallant Fox and 1935 with Omaha, according to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Fitzsimmons's horses won 13 Triple Crown races during his career.
Eddie Arcaro is the only jockey to win more than one Triple Crown. He won two.
Baffert is a legendary trainer within thoroughbred horse racing. His horses won five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes, and two Belmont Stakes. In 2009, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga for his contributions to thoroughbred horse racing.
The Arizona-native won his first Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharaoh, breaking a 37-year streak.
When asked by The New York Times about Justify's performance at the Preakness, jockey Mike Smith acknowledged the horse was "a good kind of tired." Smith won his first Triple Crown race at the Preakness Stakes 25 years ago, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Los Angeles Times reported Justify was seen as a favorite because of his previous two wins on wet tracks. 134,487 people saw Justify get one leg closer to becoming the thirteenth horse to earn the Triple Crown.
Baffert told the paper the close race was fun to watch. "It was like we had our own private match race and someone had to give — I’m just glad it wasn’t us," Baffert told The New York Times. "I’m just glad that everyone got to see a great horse race."