The heavily favored three-year-old chestnut colt overcame a lengthy initial challenge from Good Magic on a sloppy track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to add to his Churchill Downs triumph with a fifth victory in as many races .
A hard-charging Bravazo finished second and Tenfold was third as Good Magic faded to fourth toward the end of the 1 3/16 mile( 9.5 furlongs) dirt track race .
A victory in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 9 would earn trainer Bob Baffert his second U.S. thoroughbred racing Triple Crown in four years after American Pharoah achieved the feat in 2015.
Jockey Mike Smith was equally as elated .
” Unbelievable. It's a dream come true, to be honest with you ,” Smith told after the race .
” It's been 25 years since I was blessed to win my first( Triple Crown race ), which was here, and to go into it with Bob and( Baffert's wife) Jill and the whole crew … I'm just so blest to be riding for these people right now .
” I'm on cloud nine .”
Good Magic set out to challenge from the start, and the two raced neck-and-neck for much of the race with the Kentucky Derby runner-up even taking the lead at times .
” It was like they had their own private match race ,” Baffert added .
Justify, who became the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a two-year-old, ultimately transgressed free of Good Magic, merely to be challenged by Bravazo and Tenfold down the home stretch .
” Good Magic, he really made us work ,” Baffert told.” That's a really good horse .”
Justify, whose five races have come in 91 days, depicted no ill effects from a bruise to the colt's left hind heel, likely incurred while racing on the wet surface at the Derby .
As for his chances of joining American Pharoah as a Triple Crown winner, Baffert remains optimistic .