Every so often a horse comes around that is simply such a specimen it defies all believe, this is very much the case when it comes to Saturday’s Kentucky Derby winner, Justify.
In tough conditions, the 3/1 favourite didn’t let its backers down starting fast and setting a blistering pace to earn a well deserved victory for his American trainer Bob Baffert, who described him as “being cut from a different cloth”.
Ridden by 52 year old jockey Mike Smith, in front of a staggering 157,813 onlookers, who were as soaked as they were in awe, Justify saw off competition from Good Magic and Audible who finished second and third respectively.
Furthermore, torrential rain didn’t hamper the enthusiasm of punters, as wagering from all-sources on the Derby program totaled $225.7 million, an 8% increase over the 2017 total and previous record of $209.2 million.
Speaking after the victory, Baffert stated: “I just feel blasted lucky to have a horse like this. This horse came around, the first time we worked him I thought we had something really special. After his maiden win I thought the timer was wrong, I really didn’t think he ran that fast.
“Winning the Santa Anita Derby, we knew how special he was. I couldn’t believe the weather, I was feeling really bad. We were ready to head out the gate the moment they crossed the wire.
“But he broke clean and I knew that he wasn’t going to lay down. It’s like having LeBron James on your team, you’d better win a championship with him. Good Magic was coming, there’s some really good horses in there, but I knew in the last eighth that he was going to win.”
Smith and Baffert will now be looking ahead to Justify potentially capturing the Triple Crown, when he heads to New York on 9th June for the Belmont.