Undefeated Justify, who sold for $500,000 at Keeneland’s 2016 September Yearling Sale, lived up to his 5-2 favoritism with a commanding 2½-length victory in the 144th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) today at Churchill Downs. Finishing second was $1 million September Sale graduate and champion Good Magic, winner of Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
Justify’s victory marked the third consecutive year Keeneland sales graduates have won the Kentucky Derby, following Nyquist in 2016 and Always Dreaming in 2017.
Keeneland sales now have produced 22 Kentucky Derby winners. Of the 20 starters in this year’s race, 14 are graduates of the September Sale.
“When he got away clean, I thought we had a chances,” Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, who scored his fifth Derby victory, told NBC moments after the race. “(Jockey) Mike (Smith) took his time. I knew it was going to be a hot pace, but (Justify) was doing it easy.
“He and (2015 Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah and ($17 million earner) Arrogate – these horses are just so great,” Baffert said, recalling other outstanding horses he has trained. “It took a great horse to do what he did today.”
"It took a great horse to do what he did today.” - Bob Baffert
Breeder John D. Gunther’s Glennwood Farm, agent, consigned Justify to the September Sale, where he sold for $500,000 to China Horse Club and Maverick Racing. The 3-year-old Scat Daddy colt, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1), races for China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm.
Justify gave Smith his second Derby victory, following Giacomo in 2005. Co-owner WinStar Farm won the 2010 Derby with Super Saver.
2016 September Yearling Sale: Justify
Keeneland hosted 11,099 racing fans of all ages at its 24th annual Derby Day celebration, which offered a variety of activities and the opportunity to watch and wager on races from Churchill Downs and other tracks. All dining rooms, corporate suites and the Derby Bash at the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center were sold out. Fans set up picnics throughout the Grandstand and gathered on The Hill tailgating area.
Events at the track included live music, a Derby hat contest and The Keeneland Shop tent in the Paddock. Children enjoyed pony rides, face painting, cookie decorating and crafts.
Fans wagered $1,596,006 on the Kentucky Derby, including all multi-leg pools ending with the Derby.
On Friday, additional graduates of the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale – Monomoy Girl, Wonder Gadot and Midnight Bisou – ran 1-2-3 in a thrilling renewal of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Monomoy Girl, who won Keeneland’s $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 7, battled Wonder Gadot down the stretch and prevailed by a half-length to capture the 1 1/8-mile classic for 3-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Florent Geroux for trainer Brad Cox, Monomoy Girl is the 34th filly to compete in the Central Bank Ashland and win the Oaks. She is the 13th filly to win the Ashland and Oaks.
Monomoy Girl is the 12th Kentucky Oaks winner produced by Keeneland sales since 1994.
The 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar, bred in Kentucky by FPF and Highfield Ranch, was consigned to the September Sale by Gainesway, agent. She sold for $100,000 to BSW Bloodstock/Liz Crow, agent.
Undefeated in three starts this year with six wins in seven career races and earnings of $1,120,750, Monomoy Girl races for Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables.
A total of eight Keeneland sales alumni were among the 14 runners in the Kentucky Oaks. Runner-up Wonder Gadot sold for $80,000 at the September Sale. Grade 1 winner Midnight Bisou was offered at the sale.