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Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: Justifiably Brilliant

Mike Smith celebrates aboard Justify after the pair won the Kentucky Derby (Credit: Coady Photography)

Kentucky Derby 144 is in the books, one we’ll never forget. After over three inches of rain pounded Louisville during Churchill Down’s Saturday card, it was Justify taking home the race and ending the 136-year-old Curse of Apollo. His performance tops this week’s rankings, but there were other great performances throughout the two-day star-studded weekend at beneath the Twin Spires. Check out our latest Three Stars of the Week:

2018 Preakness Stakes Wagering Guide

1. Justify

  • No horse since 1882 had won the Kentucky Derby without running at the age of 2;  Justify was un-raced until mid-February
  • Only two horses in 143 years had won the Kentucky Derby with three or less starts
  • Santa Anita is the only track on which he’s made a start
  • Upwards of 150,000 people were screaming at him as he entered the paddock
  • Record rain downfall soaked the track, turning it into a disaster

None of it mattered. Justify was simply unflappable, stalking Promises Fulfilled’searly pace through very quick fractions, then still had enough to kick away from Good Magic‘s challenge in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths. He’ll set his sights on Pimlico now for the Preakness Stakes, where he will be a heavy favorite. It looks very likely that there will be a bid for the Triple Crown for the first time since American Pharoah in 2015.

2. Monomoy Girl

This filly has the heart of a champion! After Monomoy Girl drew the 14 hole, many thought that her chances were ruined, but she proved her doubters wrong with a determined victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. Jockey Florent Geroux gave a stellar ride out of the gate to get her in a solid position heading into the turn, then took control of the race at the top of the stretch. However, a major challenger was looming, as Wonder Gadot ranged up with a big move, and the fight was on down the lane. At one point, Wonder Gadot put her nose in front of the eventual winner, but Monomoy Girl dug down deep to re-rally past her rival to win by a 1/2-length. The Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park will be the next target for this Brad Cox trainee, the clear leader in the 3-year-old filly division.

3. Yoshida

Yoshida has had his ups and downs, but he’s now a Grade 1 winner with a powerful win in the Old Forester Turf Classic. This horse has let bettors down in the past, but he made up for it in this race with a nice score, paying $21.80 to win. Jockey Jose Ortiz stalked the early pace while saving ground for most of the race, then went after the heavy favorite Beach Patrol at the top of the stretch. Beach Patrol fought gamely down the lane, but Yoshida got the best of him to win by 3/4 of a length. These connections will likely point for a summer campaign in New York. He looks to have come back ready for a big 4-year-old season.

Coady Photography

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