Dissecting The Derby: Justify

Dissecting The Derby: Justify
After Tuesday's post-postition draw, Justify was the morning-line favorite at 3-1 for Saturday's 144th Kentucky Derby. (Source: Benoit Photo)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - No race is tougher to ferret out than the Kentucky Derby, which at times can seem as perplexing 30 minutes before post time as it is 30 days out.

It can look so easy after the fact, so here we helpfully tell you in advance why the winner will prevail.

Of course we do it for every horse in the field -- as well as explaining why you can't possibly cash a ticket betting that horse.

So let us do the detective work as we case out the Kentucky Derby -- including the perilous exercise of handicapping the Racing Gods.

Notes: Final Fractions reflects how fast the horse ran the last eighth-mile and last three-eighths of a mile in its 1 1/8-mile prep race. The Final Fraction Theory rules out horses who ran the last eighth slower than 13.0 and the last three-eighths in slower than 38.0. Bris and Beyer speed figures are ratings designed to compute how fast a horse ran taking into account track conditions as a means of comparing horses from different tracks and races.

7. JUSTIFY (3-1)
Owner: WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
Record: 3—3-0-0
Earnings: $666,000
Last race: 1st, Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Park
Fastest Bris speed figure: 114, Santa Anita Derby
Fastest Beyer speed figure: 107, Santa Anita Derby
Final fractions in last race: 12.70, 37.11

Why Justify can win
The big, imposing horse is the fastest horse in the field. He doesn't have to be in front but his sheer brilliance and ability has just put him there. Including easily defeating a high-quality horse in Bolt d'Oro in the Santa Anita Derby. Four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert trained the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in American Pharoah in 2015, so he knows what he's got on his hands. Mike Smith is the biggest money rider in the game today.

Why he won't
It's not the Apollo Curse. It's the Apollo Fact that only one horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old, and that's Apollo in 1882. It will happen someday but not in a field as deep as this one. Since Regret in 1915, Big Brown in 2008 is the only horse to win the Derby in its fourth career start. And Big Brown raced once at 2 and faced very weak competition in the Derby, as his trainer regularly stated. The suspicion is that, after being uncontested in his three starts and getting away with a soft pace in the Santa Anita Derby, that Justify figures out what the game really is all about in the Derby and wins the Preakness.

Owner WinStar Farm won the 2010 Derby with Super Saver. Many of the Starlight Racing partners are local, the last Louisville owner to win the Derby being H.C. Applegate with Old Rosebud in 1914. Since 1937, the Derby record of horses who didn't race at 2 is 0-3-5 in 61 starts. Post 7 has launched the Derby winner six times, with Street Sense in 2007 being the first since Pleasant Colony in 1981.

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