Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champ

Justify etched his name into American racing history with a brilliant victory in the Belmont Stakes in NY seeing him become just the 13th horse to claim the Triple Crown.

Justify, who had the pole position, got to the front right away under jockey Mike Smith and led the 1.5 mile race the entire way, pulling away in the stretch after a minor challenge.

Among those expected to be on hand is New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

"He ran a large number of races in a short amount of time with no 2-year-old foundation", said Chad Brown, who trains Gronkowski.

Before Justify won, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed the 12 horses that have won the Triple Crown, according to Kentucky Derby's comprehensive list. In fact, between American Pharoah's 2015 victory and Affirmed's Triple Crown in 1978, 13 horses took the first two races before losing the Belmont Stakes. A famed horse trainer from the great state of Arizona, Baffert grew up in Nogales, AZ on a ranch. Instead of thanking the horse's owner and the trainer, the very first thing he told NBC while being interviewed on horseback following the race, "First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ".

"I believe there's just a flow that guides me and when I follow it, incredible things happen", he said.

Baffert was referring to the incredible 111-day rush from Justify's maiden start at Santa Anita on February 18 through the three legs of the Triple Crown. Before American Pharoah, he had won the first two legs of the Triple Crown three times, with Silver Charm, in 1997, Real Quiet (1998) and Point Given (2001) and failed to complete the feat before American Pharoah did it to become the first Triple Crown victor in 37 years, since Affirmed in 1978. "He's got such a natural high cruising speed and he can just kind of keep on going". "And I was nearly in tears, it's such an emotional experience", he said. He did so in 2015 with American Pharoah, a colt that ended a 37-year drought.

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Justify became the second undefeated Triple Crown victor after Seattle Slew in 1977, finishing first in a field of 10. At 52, he is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

"Mike [Smith] is great, obviously, and Justify is probably a great horse".

The way things went this year, don't be surprised to see Smith riding a good one in next year's Triple Crown races. The thoroughbred horse retired from racing with five wins at the young age of 3 after suffering an injury to his tendon at the Kentucky Derby. After a shocking upset loss in the Travers at Saratoga - the biggest summer race restricted to 3-year-olds - there was some question whether Baffert would run him again. "It was the day of lifetime to be here and see him make history, and he will be coming to Australia".

"I'm really proud of my horse". So was Smith, who actually took a nap - something he never would've done as a younger jockey.

"To do what he did in such a short time is unbelievable", Smith said of Justify. "He's now become a household name, and I'm looking forward to his next race just as much as you guys are".

Baffert became the second trainer along with "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons to train two Triple Crown winners, with Fitzsimmons having conditioned Gallant Fox (1930) and his son, Omaha (1935).

Completing the order of finish after Vino Rosso were Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy.

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