It was 2015 and thoroughbred horse racing had not had a Triple Crown winner in 37 years, which was AFFIRMED in 1978. AMERICAN PHAROAH won the KD in 2015 and went on to win The Preakness and Belmont Stakes to end that drought. Fast forward three years to 2018, it had been 136 years since a horse named APOLLO was not raced as a two year-old, yet won the 1882 KD. “The Curse Of APOLLO” ended yesterday when post-time favorite JUSTIFY lived up to all his hype, and won The Kentucky Derby. The common denominator in both these historic events? The silver-haired, sun-glassed, California cool, trainer Bob Baffert. There should be a t-shirt printed with the slogan; “The Baff Knows The Derby”. It makes Baffert a five time winning KD trainer.
It was the wettest Kentucky Derby in the event’s 144 year history. Throughout the day yesterday 3 inches of rain fell on the crowd of 158,000 on-lookers. The track was rightfully listed as ‘Sloppy’. And yet at the end of the days featured contest, winning jockey Mike Smith had just a few specks of mud on his racing silks. Smith got JUSTIFY out of the gate quickly and ran side by side with long-shot PROMISES FULFILLED before pulling away around the final turn, and then held off hard charging GOOD MAGIC, and AUDIBLE. It was “Big Money” Mike Smith’s 2nd KD winning ride. At the age of 52 it made Smith the second oldest jockey to win The Derby. (Bill “The Shoe” Shoemaker was the oldest when he was aboard FERDINAND in 1986.)
JUSTIFY paid $7.80 to Win. GOOD MAGIC was second and paid $9.20, while AUDIBLE got up for third and paid $5.00. A two dollar Exacta paid $69.60, and the one dollar Trifecta brought back $141.40. It was the Superfecta that had the best payout as 85-1 INSTILLED REGARD hung on for fourth place. If you were fortunate enough to have a 7-6-5-15 Superfecta ticket, the payout on a dollar play was a whopping $19,618 ! That’s a lot of hay.
Is JUSTIFY good enough to win The Triple Crown? Stay tuned. Two weeks until The Preakness Stakes.