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LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05: Jockey Mike Smith poses for a photo in the winner's circle atop of Justify #7 after winning the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Justify conquered horrendous conditions on Saturday at Churchill Downs to become the latest favourite to win the Kentucky Derby.

The weather made the course a challenge for all the horses and jockeys, but Bob Baffert’s colt showed his class in the slop to make good on his pre-race billing.

Justify, who came home ahead of Good Magic and Audible, also broke the longstanding Apollo Curse, becoming the first horse since 1882 to win the Derby that hadn’t debuted as a two-year-old.

Here’s how things finished up in the 2018 Run for the Roses, the purses of the top five and a closer look at how the race played out.

Race Result (Purse), per NBC Broadcast

Win: ($ 1.24 million): Justify; Jockey: Mike Smith; Trainer: Bob Baffert

Place: ($ 400,000): Good Magic (-2 ½ lengths); Jockey: Jose Ortiz; Trainer: Chad Brown

Show: ($ 200,000): Audible (-2 ½ lengths); Jockey: Javier Castellano; Trainer: Todd Pletcher

4th: ($ 100,000): Instilled Regard (-4 ¼ lengths); Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke; Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

5th ($ 60,000): My Boy Jack (-7 lengths); Jockey: Kent Desormeaux; Trainer: J. Keith Desormeaux

6th: Bravazo (-8 lengths); Jockey: Luis Contreras; Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

7th: Hofburg (-8 ¾ lengths); Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.; Trainer: William Mott

8th: Lone Sailor (-9 ¼ lengths); Jockey: James Graham; Trainer: Thomas Amoss

9th: Vino Rosso (-10 ½ lengths); Jockey: John Velazquez; Trainer: Todd Pletcher

10th: Solomini (-11 lengths); Jockey: Flavien Prat; Trainer: Bob Baffert

11th: Firenze Fire (-23 ½ lengths); Jockey: Paco Lopez; Trainer: Jason Servis

12th: Bolt d’Oro (-24 ¼ lengths); Jockey: Victor Espinoza; Trainer: Mick Ruis

13th: Flameaway (-30 ½ lengths); Jockey: Jose Lezcano; Trainer: Mark Casse

14th: Enticed (-34 ¾ lengths); Jockey: Junior Alvarado; Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

15th: Promises Fulfilled (-39 ¾ lengths); Jockey: Corey Lanerie; Trainer: Dale Romans

16th: Free Drop Billy (-41 lengths); Jockey: Robby Albarado; Trainer: Dale Romans

17th: Noble Indy (-42 ¼ lengths); Jockey: Florent Geroux; Trainer: Todd Pletcher

18th: Combatant (-42 ¾ lengths); Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.; Trainer: Steven Asmussen

19th: Magnum Moon (-49 ½ lengths); Jockey: Luis Saez; Trainer: Todd Pletcher

20th: Mendelssohn (-73 ¼ lengths); Jockey: Ryan Moore; Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Race Recap

Here’s a look at how the race went, per NBC Sports:

According to Covers, Justify crossed the line at a time of 2:04:20. As noted by sports journalist Eric Crawford, it was one of the slowest races there’s been for a long time:

That’s no surprise, as the rain tipped down at Churchill Downs in the buildup to the Run for the Roses. Stamina, staying power and some luck was always going to be crucial in determining the eventual winner here.

A sound strategy was important, too, and Smith gave Justify an excellent ride. Going around the final turn, the favourite was nestled in a length behind Promises Fulfilled, and when both Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic made their move, he was up to the fight.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

In the end, it was a comfortable win for Baffert’s colt, as once he established a gap out front, there was nobody else in the field with the ability to respond to the raw speed of Justify. 

As noted by AFP’s Michael Mathes, in the end both Justify and Smith made this one look easy as the rest of the field toiled in behind:

Any win in the Kentucky Derby is historic for those involved. For Baffert, it’s the fifth time he’s trained the winner of this race, and afterwards he said Justify is one of the best.

“I was just in awe of the performance,” said the legendary trainer, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press (h/t the Chicago Tribune). “He just put himself up there with the greats.”

Additionally, the win means the Apollo Curse has finally been banished, per ESPN’s Darren Rovell:

It was an excellent display from Justify, who became the sixth favourite in succession to win the big race at Churchill Downs.

Having produced a spectacular display in such difficult circumstances here, the challenge for him now will be to go to the Preakness Stakes and keep alive hopes of a Triple Crown. Baffert trained American Pharoah, who achieved the remarkable feat three years ago.

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