Lady and The Track | September 21, 2023

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Home » Kentucky Derby » Justify Does Just That For Kentucky Derby With Santa Anita Derby Win

Justify Does Just That For Kentucky Derby With Santa Anita Derby Win

By Margaret Ransom


Justify wins the 2018 Santa Anita Derby under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, 4/7/18. Photo: Jim Safford

China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm’s Justify may have been a bit late to this year’s Kentucky Derby (GI) party, but proved he certainly should be one of the guests of honor after winning the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (GI) by three easy lengths. Under regular jockey Mike Smith, the Bob Baffert-trained son of the late, great sire Scat Daddy let at every call through splits of :23.96, :47.85, 1:12.61 and 1:37.02 and though briefly challenged by runner-up Bolt D’Oro in mid-stretch, continued on strongly, if not a little greenly, to the wire to claim the victory in a final time of 1:49.72 over a fast main track.

In his stakes debut, the flashy colt earned 100 points to guarantee a start in the May 5 Kentucky Derby (GI). His record now stands at 3-3-0-0, $666,000. He must now face the infamous “Curse of Apollo” and defy history to become the first Derby winner who was unraced as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882.

“He rides with room to grow,” Smith said. “He’s learning and it’s the first time he rides with the infield open, I don’t know if… (more)


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