LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Justify splashed through the slop to win the Kentucky Derby by 2½ lengths on Saturday, becoming the first colt in 136 years to wear the roses after not racing as a 2-year-old.
The colt that began his racing career in February improved to 4-0 and gave Bob Baffert his fifth Derby victory. That snapped a tie and left the 65-year-old trainer trailing only Ben Jones with six.
Mike Smith earned his second Derby victory. The 52-year-old jockey crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs with only a few specks of mud on his white and green silks in the rainiest Derby in the race’s 144-year history.
Justify, the 5-2 favorite in the field of 20, ran 1¼ miles in 2:04.20.
Good Magic finished second and Audible was another head back in third.
One other record was broken at the 144th Run for the Roses — and not one anyone will be celebrating.
The National Weather Service declared it the wettest Derby on record, and the rain is still coming down. The weather service tweeted that the official rainfall measurement stood at 2.83 inches at 6:10 p.m., about a half-hour before the big race.
Rain was still pouring, and the weather service expects it to taper off slowly through the evening. A flash flood warning was issued for areas within a few blocks of Churchill Downs. Puddles of ankle-deep were scattered around Churchill Downs, and the downpours sent Derby goers cowering for cover all day long.
The Courier-Journal reported that the rainfall Saturday edged out the previous record of 2.31 inches, which held for nearly a century since May 11, 1918.
The weather service also said it was the wettest May 5 in Louisville history.