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Justify wins sloppy Kentucky Derby, Baffert takes 5th title

136 years ago, Apollo won the Kentucky Derby by half a length, becoming the last horse to win the Derby without having been raced by age 2 -- until Justify came along this year. 

Kiichiro Sato

A nearly 136-year-old streak of odd luck, set on May 16, 1882, was broken May 5 of this year, with the victory of 3-year-old Justify in the Kentucky Derby. 

According to, a long-standing horse racing belief held that no horse could ever win the Kentucky Derby if it hadn't raced by the time it was two years old. 

This is because no such horse had won since Apollo, who at age 3 in 1882 won the Kentucky Derby. Apollo was ridden by Babe Hurd, and beat out Runnymede by half a length. 

Apollo also won the Cottrill Stakes, the Coal Stakes, the St. Leger Stakes, the Drummers Stakes and the Montgomery Stakes that year. Several of these races no longer exist. 

After Apollo's win, no other horse who hadn't been raced by age 2 won the Derby. And horse racing being a sport prone to superstition, this came to be thought of as a curse. 

Dozens of horses not raced by age 2 tried, and failed, at the Derby in the 13 decades following Apollo. Then Justify came along, and beat the closest contender, Good Magic, by 2 1/2 lengths. 

Next up for Justify: the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. 


Lifestyles reporter

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