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Justify more than justified his standing as the 2018 Kentucky Derby favorite, besting the field by 2 1/2 lengths in a stellar performance Saturday.
The horse became the latest in a string of favorites to win the Derby. Justify came into Saturday as 13-4, per OddsShark. Good Magic came in second, while Audible was third.
“Amazing horse,” Smith told reporters after the race. “He’s got that ‘it’ factor. He is so above average, he’s got unbelievable talent and he’s got a mind to go with it. He was loving this stuff.”
Justify is now 4-0 in his career, the ninth undefeated Derby winner in history. Seattle Slew is the only one of those horses that went on to win the Triple Crown.
The odds of a horse winning a Triple Crown are always slim. There’s a reason it’s only happened once in the last 40 years. It’s a grueling stretch of three races done over the course of a little more than a month—when a vast majority of these horses have always had at least one-month breaks between races, at the bare minimum, throughout their careers.
It’s really, really hard.
So odds are Justified isn’t going to win the next two races. The math just says it’s unlikely.
As for the Preakness? The odds are much better.
Seven horses have won the first two races of the Triple Crown. Six of them have failed to win the third. But seven in 18 years is a 38.9 percent chance of victory, based on history. That’s much better than the 5.6 percent chance of winning the Triple Crown—again based only on races this century.
This makes sense for a multitude of reasons. The first, of course, being the field is extremely watered down from the Kentucky Derby. The Derby fields 20 horses, all in their absolute peak physical form. The 2017 Preakness featured half that amount.
That’s, uhh, much better odds. The Preakness is also a similar race to the Kentucky Derby and shorter. The Belmont is akin to a marathon in horse racing and is the third in the grueling stretch.
As always, the best prediction is to pick the Kentucky Derby winner to take the Preakness and fail in the Triple Crown bid.