Justify Captures Triple Crown With Belmont Stakes Win

Justify Captures Triple Crown With Belmont Stakes Win

Justify (1), with jockey Mike Smith up, crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race and the Triple Crown, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Elmont, N.Y.

The victory marks the second Triple Crown win for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who also won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes with American Pharoah in 2015.

What makes Justify's accomplishment more remarkable is that the horse became so valuable in 111 days from his first race on February 18 to Saturday, when he became the 13th victor of the Triple Crown.

The New Mexico native won 15 Grade 1 races in 2017, including nine with Bob Baffert, the trainer of Justify and now a two-time Triple Crown victor.

"I can't believe I'm here in NY winning it again".

If Justify remains healthy and sound, Baffert will have plenty of options to map out his summer and fall campaign, with the obvious goal being the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill.

"He's so brilliant. Did you see him in the gate, he's standing so still", Smith said. Horses had come close to breaking it in recent years but it wasn't until Justify arrived that the superstition was put to rest.

Baffert fell short the first three times he brought a horse to Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown - with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002). The chestnut colt with a pronounced white blaze won on slop at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness; even on a faster track on a clear day at Belmont, his opponents couldn't outrun him.

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He became the first horse in 136 years to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a juvenile, then hung on in a surreal fog to win by a half-length in the Preakness three weeks ago.

"I think it's very fitting that Gronkowski finished second again", Mara cracked.

The silver-haired Californian becomes only the second trainer to saddle more than one Triple Crown victor after "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha between the wars.

"Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in?" the jockey questioned. I believe that given the circumstances, Justify's Triple Crown sweep is the greatest yet. I tell you, it's just incredible.

Smith, 52, became the oldest jockey to win a Triple Crown. Restoring Hope, who like Justify is trained by Baffert, last ran May 5 but not in the Derby. "This horse, I'm sure there was millions of people screaming at their TV wanting to see it done". If rain falls and turns it sloppy, Justify should feel right at home. Vino Rosso made the most serious move to get within a length but never threatened.

Gronkowski paid $13.80 to place and $7.00 to show.

"We're looking forward to sharing him [with the public] more, " said Elliott Walden, the CEO and racing manager for WinStar Farm, which owns a majority share of the horse.

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