Half the Preak­ness field gets 1st shot at Jus­tify

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS - By David Gins­burg

BAL­TI­MORE » Half the par­tic­i­pants in the eight-horse Preak­ness field have yet to ex­pe­ri­ence the sen­sa­tion of chasing Jus­tify to the fin­ish line.

Per­haps one of the new shoot­ers in Satur­day’s race can find a way to leave the Ken­tucky Derby win­ner in his wake.

Quip, Sport­ing Chance, Di­a­mond King and Ten­fold skipped the Derby to fo­cus on earn­ing a chunk of the $1.5 mil­lion Preak­ness purse.

His­tory just might be on their side.

A new shooter — a horse which runs in one of the two re­main­ing Triple Crown races af­ter pass­ing up the Derby — has won the Preak­ness four times since 2000. Just last year, Cloud Com­put­ing paid $13.40 in an up­set over Derby win­ner Al­ways Dream­ing. Then again... “Derby run­ners have done well over the course of time,” in­sisted W. El­liott Walden, pres­i­dent and CEO of rac­ing op­er­a­tions for Win­Star Farm, which owns Jus­tify and Quip. “Now is it be­cause they’re the bet­ter horses? Quite pos­si­bly that’s the case. They’re just the best horses of the crop and that’s why they run in the Ken­tucky Derby.”

The finest of the new­com­ers this year ap­pears to be Quip, who has three wins and a sec­ond-place show­ing in five ca­reer races.

“He’s a re­ally good horse. He’s fast,” Jus­tify trainer Bob Baf­fert said of Quip.

Trained by Rodolphe Bris­set and rid­den by last year’s Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic win­ner Florent Ger­oux, Quip cap­tured the Tampa Derby in March be­fore fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Arkansas Derby.

While un­beaten Jusweeks’ tify comes in with just two rest — the quick­est turn­around of his ca­reer — Quip en­ters the Preak­ness com­ing off an ex­tended break.

“Quip is a horse that has shown qual­ity at the high­est level,” Walden said. “We feel like he could have run in the Ken­tucky Derby, but we wanted to give him a chance to catch up to him­self. He’s a slight-made horse we felt like would do bet­ter with the five weeks rest.”

Quip had a pair of wins last year be­fore stag­ger­ing to a sev­enth-place show­ing in the Grade 2 Ken­tucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in Novem­ber.

In ret­ro­spect, that might have been a turn­ing point.

“He’s changed a lot,” Bris­set said. “Af­ter the Ken­tucky Jockey Club, we gave him a cou­ple of weeks off and you could see the mat­u­ra­tion. You still have to be a lit­tle care­ful when he’s around too many horses, but he’s way more pro­fes­sional.”

Well, Quip —the third choice at 12-1 — will have only seven other horses to con­tend with on Satur­day. Two of them will be sad­dled by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Lukas brings back Bravazo, who fin­ished sixth in the Derby, along with Sport­ing Chance.

Un­like the rest of the first-time Triple Crown par­tic­i­pants, Sport­ing Chance is no fresher than the Derby horses. Sport­ing Chance (30-1) also ran at Churchill Downs on May 5, tak­ing fourth in the Pat Day Mile.

Asked to as­sess the chances of both his en­trants Satur­day, Lukas shrugged his shoul­ders and saluted Jus­tify’s im­pres­sive per­for­mance at the Derby.

“I don’t have a lot of con­fi­dence if he runs that same race. Let’s be hon­est, at 82 you get more re­al­is­tic,” Lukas said. “If he’s the best horse, so be it. We’ll throw the bou­quets his way and salute him as a sec­ond-leg win­ner and go on to the Bel­mont. But we’ll try to get the best piece of this we can.”

CHAR­LIE RIEDEL — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas brings back Bravazo, who fin­ished sixth in the Derby, along with Sport­ing Chance, to take on Derby win­ner Jus­tify on Satur­day in the Preak­ness.

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