(Reuters) - Kentucky Derby winner Justify will race in this month’s Preakness Stakes as he takes another step toward a possible U.S. thoroughbred racing Triple Crown, his trainer said on Sunday.
The lightly raced chestnut colt came out of Saturday’s Derby victory in excellent form, Bob Baffert told reporters at Churchill Downs.
“It looks like it was nothing for him,” Baffert said.
The Preakness, the second leg in the Triple Crown, is set for May 19 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
The series concludes with the Belmont Stakes on June 9 in New York.
Justify, who won the Derby by 2-1/2 lengths over Good Magic in the rain, immediately became the heavy favourite for the mile and three-sixteenths Preakness race.
“If he stays healthy and he looks good, I think he’s just getting it now,” Baffert told the Baltimore Sun when asked about Justify’s chances. “He knows he’s a stud.”
Whether Good Magic will challenge him remains unclear.
“I don’t know,” trainer Chad Brown said. “The horse is sound. He looks good, but I just have to observe him. … I want to get the horse back home and evaluate his energy level. We’ve just got to go from there.”
Justify became first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the ‘Run for the Roses’ without a start as a two-year-old.
The victory was the fifth at the Derby for Baffert, who also trained 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
“Him and American Pharoah and Arrogate, these horse are cut different ... I rank him up there with my top ones,” Baffert said.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar