Preakness 2018: Justify wins, sets up Triple Crown attempt

Every year at the Preakness, all eyes are on the Kentucky Derby winner, with the hope and expectation that the champion of three weeks ago can win at Pimlico to take the necessary second step toward winning the Triple Crown. Three weeks ago, Justify romped to a decisive victory in Kentucky. Would it happen again in muddy, foggy Maryland?

The answer: absolutely. Justify won in 1:55.93, and now heads to the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown.

The 143rd Run for the Black-Eyed Susans (it’s a flower) took place on a sloppy, fog-enshrouded track not unlike the one Justify romped at in Kentucky. Justify started the race at 1-5 odds, with only Good Magic coming anywhere close at 5-1, with no other horse under double-digit odds. It was an unfamiliar field for Justify; only four horses from the Kentucky Derby field were in the mix at Pimlico.

See photos from the race: 

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Justify wins rainy 143rd Preakness Stakes
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Justify wins rainy 143rd Preakness Stakes
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Justify #7 ridden by jockey Mike Smith wins the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Justify #7 ridden by jockey Mike Smith wins the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Justify #7 ridden by jockey Mike Smith celebrates after winning the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Justify #7 with Mike Smith defeats Tenforld #6 to win the 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND- MAY 19: Justify, with Mike Smith aboard, wins the G1 Preakness Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Horsephotos/Getty Images)
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Justify started from the seventh gate at Churchill Downs, and started from the same gate Saturday at Pimlico, albeit with one notable difference: where there were 20 horses in the field in Kentucky, there were only eight racing on Saturday. Justify was also the latest in a long line of Bob Baffert-trained horses to run the Preakness; Baffert horses had won the race six times coming into Saturday, and more importantly for Justify’s odds, Baffert’s four Kentucky Derby-winning horses had also won the Preakness.

Justify left the gate cleanly and broke out in the lead before the first turn. Good Magic held the inside line heading into the backstretch, but Justify kept the lead by a nose. The two horses kept a solid, not spectacular, pace through the back stretch, running neck and neck as they hit the far turn. Good Magic nudged a head in front in the turn, but Justify broke out in the final stretch and managed to win by a length.

The Preakness sets the stage for a Triple Crown bid. American Pharaoh won three years ago, but before that, it had been more than a generation, 37 years, since Affirmed had won the Triple Crown. Twenty-three horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but failed to bring home the Triple Crown.

See photos from the lead up to the race: 

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Celebrations ahead of the 143rd Preakness
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Celebrations ahead of the 143rd Preakness
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Scenes from the infield on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Ting Shen/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Horses race prior to the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Musical artist Post Malone performs onstage during the 143rd Preakness Stakes on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Stronach Group)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: A marine dances on top of the humvee on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Ting Shen/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: A girl sits on someones shoulders and sings along to 21 Savage's performance on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: Fans stand by the fence to watch an undercard race on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: A man wears a hat adorned with pins form past Preakness' on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: A man smokes a cigar after diving into the mud on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Ting Shen/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 19: A muddied jockey is seen prior to the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 19, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
May 19, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; A fan looks on from the grand stands during the fifth race prior to the 143rd running Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; A fan poses for a photos after diving into the infield mud prior to the running of the 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Ricardo Santana, Jr. aboard Tap Daddy (3) wins the fifth race prior to the 143rd running Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Preakness spectators reacts to a race on a television in the infield prior to the running of the 143rd Preakness at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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