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  • Chris Costello

Justify wins the Santa Anita Derby and becomes the Kentucky Derby favorite

After all the drama from the San Felipe Stakes between McKinzie and Bolt d"Oro, everyone was looking forward to their rematch at the Santa Anita Derby. At the San Felipe Stakes, McKinize crossed the finish line first and Bolt d'Oro second, but McKinzie was disqualified for interference down the stretch, and Bolt d'Oro was awarded first. Trainer, Bob Baffert didn't agree, but he knew he'd get another chance at the Santa Anita Derby, or did he. McKinzie developed a hock issue and not only was he out of this race, the Santa Anita Derby, we may not see him race until this summer. McKinzie is a great story. He was named after Bob Baffert's long-time friend, the late Brad McKinzie, who also was one of our clients at Los Alamitos Race Course. Brad will be missed, and though we may not see this horse run in his memory in Kentucky, I look forward to seeing Mckinzie getting back on the track this summer. So with McKinzie out for awhile you would think Baffert would be upset with the then Kentucky Derby favorite out, but no. He had a horse called Justify in his other deck of cards. Justify didn't race as a 2 year old and was 2 for 2 as 3 year old coming into the Santa Anita Derby. We all knew it would be a match race between Justify and Bolt d'Oro, but I didn't think the race would be that good. Justify took the lead from the start. Bolt d"Oro and his jockey, Javier Castellano chased Justify and Mike Smith aboard all around the dirt oval track at Santa Anita surrounded by the amazing mountain view background. At the end Justify just couldn't be caught. He went wire to wire and beat Bolt d'Oro by 3 1/2 lengths. A usual sight at the end of the Santa Anita Derby was Mike Smith patting his winning horse with pure exuberance and then tossing flowers from the winning horse's flower blanket. Such an amazing sight to see. Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself as I am sure Mike Smith and Bob Baffert don't want to either. Justify is now 3 for 3 winning races for his career as a 3 year old. He seems to have a lot of room to keep getting better and better. He has plenty of time to be real fresh for the Kentucky Derby. Also, one thing I noticed during this race was that Mike Smith was relaxed and looked like he was just out for ride and not really pushing Justify as Bolt d"Oro was getting asked and pushed to catch Justify and couldn't. I really think we may have another really special horse here and a star in the making. Justify's easy stride seemed very similar to another horse named American Pharoah. Again, trying really hard not to get ahead of myself. Only time will tell and whats great is that time is less than a month away. See all of you at the Run for the Roses in Kentucky. There we will find out whether or not Justify is just a pretender or America's next star of the horse racing world. I'm going with STAR!!!

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