Updated February 17, 9:49 AM CT
Justify wins the Kentucky Derby
Justify - wins the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby
Justify swam through the slop to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths, becoming the first colt in 136 years to wear the roses after not racing as a 2-year-old.
The colt that began his racing career in February improved to 4-0 and gave Bob Baffert his fifth Derby victory on Saturday. That snapped a tie and left the 65-year-old trainer trailing only leader Ben Jones with six.
Mike Smith earned his second Derby victory. The 52-year-old jockey crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs with only a few specks of mud on his white and green silks in the rainiest Derby in the race's 144 -year history.
Justify, the 5-2 favorite in the field of 20, ran 1 \\ miles in 2:04.20.
Good Magic finished second and Audible was another head back in third.
Everything looked good for European hopeful Mendelssohn entering the Kentucky Derby. Then the race started.
The $3 million colt was bumped out of the gate, and was unable to recover in driving rain on a sloppy track. The frustrating combination resulted in a last-place finish in the 20-horse field in Saturday's 144th running at Churchill Downs.
''He just got knocked over coming out of the gate and then got knocked over going in the first bend (turn), but he'll fine,'' trainer Aidan O'Brien said of his horse. ''He was never used to getting that much kickback.''
Jockey Ryan Moore agreed about the skirmish's effect but said Mendelssohn could handle the track conditions.
''He got beat up out the gate, proceeded to check on the first turn and was never in a good place,'' Moore said. ''The race was over for him then.''
Mendelssohn had four wins and a second in seven starts, with wins in both 2018 races before the Derby. The horse didn't get on the Churchill Downs track for the first time until Thursday after being quarantined following his arrival this week, but was still expected to contend.
Those hopes quickly disappeared. Despite the finish, O'Brien was encouraged about the horse's condition. He didn't say anything about Mendelssohn running in the Preakness, just that the horse will return home and likely be back at Churchill Downs this fall for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Whenever Mendelssohn returns, O'Brien expects a better showing the next time around.
The 2018 Kentucky Derby, “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports”
The 2018 Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 5 from Churchill Downs, Kentucky, and is the first leg of the Triple Crown.
The $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will be run for the 144th consecutive year.
Unbeaten Santa Anita Derby Winner Justify 3-1 Favorite in Kentucky Derby Future Wager
Weeks in advance of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I), lightly-raced and unbeaten Santa Anita Derby winner Justify closed as a 3-1 favorite in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).
Four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert’s late-blooming Justify improved his record to a perfect 3-for-3 on Saturday with a three-length victory over seasoned Grade I winner Bolt d’Oro in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby.
Ireland-based Mendelssohn, the 18 ½-length winner of the UAE Derby (GII) for Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien, closed as the 5-1 second choice.
All told, six horses finished with single-digit odds. The Todd Pletcher-trained Florida Derby (GI) winner Audible was the 7-1 third choice. Rebel winner Magnum Moon, also trained by Pletcher, closed fourth in the betting at 8-1 odds and will run in next Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI). Juvenile champion and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and Blue Grass (GII) winner Good Magic closed at 9-1, slightly ahead of Bolt d’Oro, who also was 9-1.
Justify, who won his seven-furlong career debut on Feb. 18, is attempting to buck one of the last so-called Derby “rules” that is rarely challenged. Apollo, who won the 1882 Kentucky Derby, is the only Kentucky Derby winner to win the “Run for the Roses” without racing as a 2-year-old. The record of horses in the Derby without a race at age 2 since 1937 is 61-0-3-5. During that span, the only horses to finish in the Derby Top 3 without racing at 2 were runner-ups Coaltown (1948), Strodes Creek (1994) and Bodemeister (2012) and third-place finishers Hampden (1946), Agitate (1974), Reinvested (1982), Curlin (2007) and Battle of Midway (2017).
The Kentucky Derby is the most famous horse race in the United States. It's always run on the first Saturday in May and is often called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" or "The Run for the Roses." The race takes place at Churchill Downs Racetrack from Louisville, Kentucky and features the top three-year-old horses in the world.
Distance: 1¼ miles (10 furlongs)
Track: Dirt, Left-handed
Weight: Colt/Gelding: 126 lbs (57.2 kg)
Filly: 121 lbs. (54.9 kg)
Purse: US$2 million, 1st $1,425,000
Number of Horses In Race
The field is limited to 20 horses.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Race Type: Thoroughbred
List of Triple Crown winners
1919 Sir Barton
1930 Gallant Fox
1937 War Admiral
1943 Count Fleet
1977 Seattle Slew
2015 American Pharoah
Horse racing history - From stable boy to millionaire
29-year-old Conor Murphy was a stable boy until one lucky bet at Cheltenham changed his life forever.
The Irishman could have been accused of letting his heart rule his head when he bet $75 on all five of his boss's horses winning. But Murphy happily proved the skeptics wrong, scooping $1.5 million in an accumulator -- a single bet which relies on all horses winning.
Murphy placed the wager online three months before the race, giving him greater odds -- and greater returns -- than those betting on the day. The huge windfall helped finance his lifelong ambition of working as a trainer in Louisville, home of the prestigious Kentucky Derby, he told British newspaper The Telegraph.
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