The 3-year-old colt is a 4/5 favorite to win, according to Las Vegas odds, after impressive victories leading up to the event.
A win for Justify would be Bob Baffert’s second as a trainer. He trained American Pharoah in 2015 when the horse won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and Belmont Stakes in New York after a 37-year Triple Crown dry spell for thoroughbred horse racing.
“I’ve never had a horse like him,” Baffert, 65, told The Associated Press. “His mechanics, his motion, just the way he did it. … This horse is starting to act like Pharoah.”
Justify didn’t start racing until turning 3 years old, becoming the first horse in over a century to win the Kentucky that didn’t race as a 2-year-old.
The horse’s first victory at the Santa Anita Park in California a few months ago convinced Baffert that he might be training a champion.
Justify had to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. He edged out Bolt d’Oro, which was his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
Justify dominated the Derby last month but won the Preakness in a closer race two weeks later.
Still, Baffert sees similarities between American Pharoah and Justify, he told the AP.
Their strides and running styles are comparable, Baffert said, adding that they both had similar struggles in their races leading up to the Belmont event.
“They’re two different type of horses, Pharoah and this guy,” Baffert told the AP after Justify won the Preakness. “I think I see a lot of resemblance in these two, the way they move.
“When I worked him after the Preakness, American Pharoah, when he would breathe, he was like he was a machine. And this horse is getting there.”