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- The race for the Triple Crown returns this weekend with the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes.
- Justify will enter the race as the betting favorite, and the success that his trainer Bob Baffert has had at this track makes a strong case that bettors should back him on Saturday.
- While Justify will have to face off against a few fresh horses that decided to skip the Kentucky Derby, he still has never lost a race and knows how to navigate a messy track.
This Saturday will mark the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
All eyes will be on Justify, who is still undefeated in his racing career after another dominant performance in the Kentucky Derby He’ll enter the race as the heavy favorite, thanks not only to his strength on the track but also to the betting public’s tendency to root for a horse to win the Triple Crown. But even if public support somewhat juices his odds, Justify still might be the smartest bet in the field this Saturday.
Ahead of the Kentucky Derby, two opposing trends applied to Justify. He was the favorite in the race, and the favorite had won five consecutive Derbys. But if he were to make it six, he had to break the “Curse of Apollo” which dictated that horses who didn’t race as a two-year-old can’t win at the Derby – no such horse had accomplished the feat since Apollo did in 1882.
Justify broke the curse, and now has an even stronger trend backing him heading into the Preakness Stakes.
Before 2018, trainer Bob Baffert has won four Kentucky Derbys in his career, and all four have gone on to win at Pimlico Race Course two weekends later. The Preakness Stakes is, historically, Baffert’s best Triple Crown race, and there’s no doubt he knows how to help Justify prepare once again for the run of his life.
Most recently, Baffert trained American Pharoah to wins at the Derby and Preakness, before going on to take home the Belmont Stakes as well and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
In his four career races, Justify has looked every bit as dominant as American Pharoah, and with a win on Saturday, could go on to match his success. “I’ve never been on a 3-year-old like this,” said jockey Mike Smith after their winning run at the Kentucky Derby.
In most cases, betting the favorite is not a smart or “sharp” play in gambling as the risk outweighs the reward. It’s often the case that casual bettors wagering on the favorite can swing the value to the underdog. Of course, once your bet is a winner, you don’t care about the doubts you had before you placed it, and with Baffert’s success in Preakness’ past, Justify feels like a ticket that will cash on Saturday.
There are straws to be grabbed if you’re looking for a reason to doubt Justify and have a good feeling about another horse in the race. He’ll be facing some fresh competition that didn’t race in the Derby, and it looks as though the race will once again be on a muddy track, lending even more “anything can happen” potential to the already somewhat unpredictable realm of horse racing.
Still, Justify has never run in a race where he didn’t cross the finish line first, and Bob Baffert’s history at the Preakness makes a strong case that your money should be on his horse this weekend.