The weekend at Pimlico was down right nasty after inches of rain fell upon Pimlico Race Course and seemingly never stopped. Once it did, thick fog rolled in, making it impossible to see what was going on during parts of the races. The track was favoring speed in a tremendous way all day long, and the Preakness was setting up to be a runaway win for Justify. However, Good Magic had others plans and challenged the Kentucky Derby champion right out of the gate, and every step of the way. The result: A thrilling Preakness Stakes with a dramatic ending. You can read all about it here, plus more, in this week’s Three Stars of the Week:
To be one of the all-time greats, you have to have the heart of a champion, and Justify proved he had just that on Saturday with a gutty 1/2-length victory in the 143rd Preakness Stakes. In four lifetime races, Justify had never faced a serious challenge, but he faced one in the Preakness from his main rival, Good Magic. Right out of the gate, Good Magic took it to Justify and never let him have a breather, pressing the Kentucky Derby champion every step of the way. In mid-stretch, Justify finally turned away Good Magic’s courageous challenge, then held off a late charge from Bravazo. The now-dual classic winner returned to Churchill Downs, where he will prepare to become just the 13th horse to ever win the Triple Crown in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, three weeks from now at Belmont Park.
This is quickly becoming one of the best 3-year-old sprinters that we have seen in quite some time. Mitole wasted no time on Saturday in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes, shooting to the lead quickly and never looking back. Despite running very fast early, Mitole continued to widen his lead down the stretch to win this race by 6 1/4 lengths. The relatively easy nature of his victory could mean that he has enough left in the tank to now point for the 7-furlong Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park in three weeks. Regardless of where he runs next, we know that he will be very difficult to beat.
3. Ax Man
It looks like trainer Bob Baffert has yet another 3-year-old colt with a serious future. The theme of the day Saturday at Pimlico was speed, and Ax Man displayed plenty of it in the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton Stakes. Right from the gate, he went out to the lead and never had a challenge, cruising to a very easy 6 3/4-length victory. The win makes him 3-for-4 lifetime and keeps undefeated when racing around two turns. His early speed will be dangerous when he moves up in class, and there are several options for him to run next. This is a horse that could be hard to beat in some of the smaller derbies around the country in places like Ohio, West Virginia, or Iowa.