A splashing victory for the undefeated JUSTIFY – photo courtesy of CINDY PIERSON DULAY – HORSE-RACES.NET








He started his racing career in February and in less than 3 months he is the 144th Kentucky Derby winner.

What JUSTIFY did yesterday was remarkable in what was deemed one of the deepest fields of 3-year-olds to assemble for the most famous horse race.

Dreadful weather conditions made the track and a sea of slop and while Justify had won in the slop in California, it was hard to know how the Derby favourite was going to handle the big crowd, the travel east and the 1 1/4 mile distance.

Well he did it quite well as he utilized his amazing speed, reminiscent of the great American Pharoah, powered through wild pace fractions and then opened up well enough so that no one could catch him.

The APOLLO curse is no longer – the last horse before Justify to win the Derby that had not raced as a 2yo was Apollo in 1892.

It was the 6th straight year the favourite has won the Derby, certainly a perplexing run considering how many horses are entered in the race each year.

Certainly the time of 2:04 was not overly impressive (103 Beyer Figure) and the late pace was slowing considerably, but this rising star was able to get it done.

And it was a day of dreams for British Columbia’s JOHN GUNTHER and his daughter Tanya, who planned the mating and bred the son of Scat Daddy from their own racemare Stage Magic by Frank Stronach’s stallion GHOSTZAPPER.

Look for a cool Q and A with John Gunther in the next issue of Canadian Thoroughbred magazine..

Trainer Bob Baffert won his 5th Derby, second only to Ben Jones who won 6 – “We saw something really great. That’s greatness right there. The first time we worked him there, I talked to Elliott. I said I think we have something really special. And after his maiden win, I thought he is really, really special. As a matter of fact, I thought the timer was wrong. You know, I really didn’t think he ran that fast. When he won his second race we were in (American) Pharoah territory. I couldn’t believe the weather. I was not feeling great about it. As a matter of fact I was leaking really bad. I told Elliott. I was not liking this at all. I was preparing my wife for a loss. We were ready to head out the gate as soon as they crossed the wire.”

(Not many replays available of the Derby, here is one from March Madness Moments)

GOOD MAGIC, the 2-year-old champion from last year ran super to be 2nd while AUDIBLE had a tough trip and was 3rd. The top three trainers? Baffert, Brown and Pletcher.

Canadian-bred FLAMEAWAY faded to 13th and, according to Blood-Horse Sunday morning, had a cut on a foot but is headed to the QUEEN’S PLATE on June 30. His barn mate WONDER GADOT, 2nd in the Kentucky Oaks, is also headed to the Plate according to trainer Mark Casse.

More to come in Monday’s Thoroughblog – off to Ajax Downs for opening day of Quarter Horse Racing!

The champagne flies – Cindy Pierson Dulay –