Justify Defies History in 2018 Kentucky Derby Victory
History was made at Churchill Downs on Saturday as Justify became the first horse in 136 years to capture the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) after going unraced as a 2-year-old. Sent off as the 5-2 favorite on a rainy day in Louisville, Kentucky, the undefeated son of the late Scat Daddy gave Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a fifth Derby trophy.
Justify broke cleanly from post 7 and secured a prominent position shadowing pacesetter Promises Fulfilled through a scorching pace on the sloppy track. Under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, whose only prior Derby score came with 50-1 upsetter Giacomo in 2005, Justify was traveling with his customary ease despite the fast fractions—including a half-mile in a blazing :45.77.
After putting Promises Fulfilled away, Justify forged ahead. Then Good Magic, last year’s champion 2-year-old male, launched a challenge turning for home. At that moment, thoughts turned to the weight of history stacked against Justify. No unraced 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882 had gone on to win the Kentucky Derby the following spring, and that “Curse of Apollo” loomed down the length of Churchill’s
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