Justify went out for his final pre-Preakness Stakes (G1) gallop in the dark May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, about three hours earlier than he hit the track the day prior, and Bob Baffert had a simple explanation as to why he changed things up.
"The Weather Channel," the Hall of Fame trainer said after he watched the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner gallop under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.
The weather in Baltimore didn't get any worse later in the morning—it mostly drizzled throughout the a.m. hours—but Baffert wasn't going to chance it with the undefeated Scat Daddy colt owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm.
"I didn't want to get him out there when it was pouring. That track is a wet son of a gun," Baffert said of the 5:30 a.m. exercise.
The white-haired trainer also got a long look at Quip, who is also owned by a partnership that includes WinStar and China Horse Club. Quip went through his gallop under trainer Rodolphe Brisset at the same time as Justify. As Baffert stood at the gap and examined the Distorted Humor colt with a coffee cup pressed against his lip, he asked Brisset how Quip was doing and got a nondescript answer.
"Quip looks good," Baffert said. "Indian Charlie mare—that's all mud right there."
Tenfold was the only other Preakness horse to gallop Friday on the main track. The rest of the field jogged, most notably Derby runner-up Good Magic, who galloped Tuesday at Pimlico. Trainer Chad Brown, who was on site for the first time Friday, said he decided to jog the Curlin colt because of the track's condition.
"He's had three good gallops over an off track here at Pimlico. And (after) talking to my assistant, the track has deteriorated worse than it has been the last three days. So I decided to play it safe and just jog the horse," Brown said.
D. Wayne Lukas has expressed his displeasure with the Pimlico surface since he arrived earlier in the week and again chose to take it easy on his Preakness pair, Bravazo and Sporting Chance. They both jogged early in the training session that began at 5 a.m.
Lone Sailor jogged and took a trip to the gate Friday as trainer Tom Amoss looked on.
"He's a gentleman at the gate," Amoss said. "He doesn't leave the gate very well, and that will probably be the case again tomorrow, but that suits his style."
Diamond King provided a bit of levity during his jog Friday. His Preakness-branded saddle towel didn't bear his name but instead read "Alibi Breakfast." Those saddle towels were decorations at the Preakness-week tradition Thursday, and trainer John Servis' groom said someone handed him one, so he used it.
Servis joked that he wanted to hurry to reserve the name "Alibi Breakfast" with The Jockey Club, so no one else could get it.
"That'd be a good name for a horse," he said.
Alicia Wincze Hughes contributed to this report.