Justify wins 144th Kentucky Derby

Horse Racing

Justify won a rain-laden Kentucky Derby on Saturday by 2 1/2 lengths.

Justify ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.20, going the first half-mile in 45.77 seconds.

The horses and jockeys were forced to navigate sloppy conditions at Churchill Downs in the first leg of the Triple Crown. More than 2 1/2 inches of rain had fallen in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, according to local meteorologists, making it the wettest Derby day ever.

The previous mark had been 2.31 inches, set on May 11, 1918.

“Amazing horse,” Justify’s jockey, Mike Smith, said. “He’s got that ‘it’ factor. He is so above average, he’s got unbelievable talent and he’s got a mind to go with it. He was loving this stuff.”

“When he got away clean, then I thought we had a chance,” Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, said. “We had to get away. Then Mike took his time.”

The colt that began his racing career in February improved to 4-0 and gave Baffert his fifth Derby victory and Smith his second Derby win.

Justify is the sixth consecutive favorite to win the Derby, extending the longest streak of favorites winning in race history.

Justify is the ninth undefeated Kentucky Derby winner, and is undefeated in four career starts.

The horse ended the so-called Curse of Apollo, becoming the first horse since 1882 — 136 years — to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old.

Justify paid $7.80, $6 and $4.40. Good Magic finished second and returned $9.20 and $6.60, while Audible finished third and paid $5.80 to show.

Instilled Regard, an 85-1 shot, was fourth, followed by My Boy Jack, Bravazo and Hofburg. Lone Sailor was eighth, followed by Vino Rosso, Solomini, Firenze Fire, Bolt d’Oro, Flameaway, Enticed, Promises Fulfilled, Free Drop Billy, Noble Indy, Combatant and Magnum Moon. Mendelssohn, trying to become the first Europe-based horse to win the Derby, finished last, beaten by 73¼ lengths.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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