‘Justify’ Finishes First in Belmont Stakes

Justify is seeking to become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown victor and second in four years when he runs in the Belmont Stakes.

Justify made all the running under Mike Smith to win the Belmont Stakes and become the 13th horse to complete the Triple Crown on Sunday morning (AEST).

In doing so, he emulated Baffert's American Pharoah, who in 2015 was the first to land all three races since Affirmed in 1978.

The reality is the race Gronkowski ran would win quite a few Belmonts, even though the third leg of the Triple Crown is thought to be unkind to deep closers and hasn't produced a last-to-first victor since Jazil in 2006.

His Belmont winning time was 2:28.18, the fourth-fastest among Triple Crown winners, after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in the slop. He faces a talented bunch that includes the second and third place finishers from the Preakness and a few potential upsetters who last ran in the Kentucky Derby.

Walden, who hadn't had a horse with Baffert before, was asked why he made a decision to give him Justify. Had I known better, the first eighth of a mile I would have thought it was a quarter-horse race, not the mile-and-a-half Belmont.

More importantly, to his owners at least, the win makes him the most valuable horse in racing history.

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Several weeks later he competed in the second leg of the three-race trilogy, The Preakness, and won in dominant fashion despite heavy rain and mud slowing the field down.

The win gave trainer Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown. Smith has seven Triple Crown race victories to his credit.

Justify had never raced until February. "The raw talent is there", Baffert said. "He's now become a household name, and I'm looking forward to the next race just as much as you guys are".

The operation owns 15 percent of the breeding rights to Justify, who is descended from previous Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat. Thus WinStar Farm, unlike Repole, would have had no desire to see Noble Indy set a pace that would have hurt its prized horse's chance at Triple Crown immortality.

"I can't describe the emotions going through my body right now", he continued. "He's sent from heaven". We'll never know. At the end of the day Bob had a game plan for his two jockeys, we had a game plan for our two jockeys'.

At the age of 52, Smith, a devout Christian, is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. American Pharoah, he'll always be my first love and for this horse to do it, and for Mike Smith - Mike deserves something like this. He managed to hold off Restoring Hope, a longshot (also owned by Baffert) who pulled into second early on and a late push from Brovazo.

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