Derby champ Justify to start Preakness from No

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After that I'll play a $1 trifecta, keying Justify on top over all the rest of the eight-horse field in both the second and third spots.

That is, of course, until it was time for GI Kentucky Derby victor Justify (Scat Daddy) to stretch his legs.

The biggest challenge to Justify could come from the so-called "new shooters" - four Preakness entries that didn't run in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

History just might be on their side.

The 65-year-old Baffert has gained the Preakness Stakes six occasions, together with with all 4 of his earlier Kentucky Derby winners - Silver Allure (1997), Actual Quiet (1998), Warfare Emblem (2002) and American Pharoah (2015). Brown is seeking a second straight Preakness after saddling victor Cloud Computing past year.

"Derby runners have done well over the course of time", insisted W. Elliott Walden, president and CEO of racing operations for WinStar Farm, which owns Justify and Quip. Quite possibly that's the case.

With the Derby still fresh in our minds, there's always a temptation to just concede the Preakness to the victor.

The finest of the newcomers this year appears to be Quip, who has three wins and a second-place showing in five career races.

Good Magic, trained by Chad Brown, galloped on Pimlico's muddy track for a second straight day on Wednesday.

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"He got around there very easily", trainer Bob Baffert said. Quip, a victor of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, is the lone newcomer among a suspect group that has earned a graded stakes victory this season. Bravazo surprised a lot of people by running sixth in the Derby at 66-1.

"As we're dragging (the floats), they compress what we call the cushion - what the sand is and what the horses run on - and that makes it as tight as it can possibly get", Bosley said. His last win was the Hopeful Stakes in September 2017.

In retrospect, that might have been a turning point. "After the Kentucky Jockey Club, we gave him a couple of weeks off and you could see the maturation".

Three years ago, after his horse Mr. Z seem to skid down the backstretch to go from a close second to a distant fifth behind American Pharoah, Lukas said he couldn't think of many races he had experienced in more hard conditions.

Well, Quip -the third choice at 12-1 - will have only seven other horses to contend with on Saturday.

The last Triple Crown victor was American Pharoah in 2015 - also saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Baffert.

Kentucky Derby participants Bravazo and Lone Sailor could be factors in the race due to their experience on the muddy course at Churchill Downs. "Around noon, I was feeling pretty good".

Finally, the two-week turnaround is a new experience for the son of Scat Daddy, whose previous races were nicely spaced about a month apart. "I didn't know how the track was going to be and when it gets that much water and it's slop", Baffert admitted. "If he's the best horse, so be it. We'll basically do the same tomorrow when we go out".

Tenfold (20-1) began racing this year. He broke his maiden on his first try then won another race and then tried the Arkansas Derby where he finished 5th.

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During the past 2 ½ seasons, Smith has won on 44 of 106 horses trained by Baffert - 41.5 percent - and has won 27 of 66 graded stakes - 40.9 percent. "He'll be right in the mix with the heavy-hitters in this race and has a good chance if there is an upset".

The 'capping crew also took on two tough puzzles on Santa Anita's Saturday card: the $100,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes, a turf mile for fillies and mares, and the 11th race, an allowance/optional claiming race for males at 1 1/16th miles on the main track.

Kentucky Derby victor Justify, center, with exercise rider Humberto Gomez aboard, waits before being escorted to the track for a workout, Thursday, May 17, 2018, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Within minutes of their arrival at Pimlico Race Course, Kentucky Derby victor Justify and his trainer circled the stakes barn at a rapid clip.

Before you bet the 143rd Preakness Stakes, you'll want to hear what Jody Demling has to say.

On Saturday at 6:20 p.m. ET, eight horses will rush from the starting gates in the 2018 Preakness Stakes. Though he's never faced the others, they certainly have grabbed his attention.

"He's a superior horse, just like American Pharoah", Baffert said.

John Servis trained Smarty Jones and won this race.

Email me or follow me on Twitter if you'd like to get in on the fun next week. That's when he does the most damage, when nobody's talking about him, he's under the radar. He has been around long enough that he knows a horse like Justify scares him.

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