Justify goes for Triple Crown in Belmont Stakes

Yonkers photographer shoots Belmont's Justify

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.

Even so, Justify enjoyed a dry track on Saturday and led the race from start to finish.

Justify joins Seattle Slew as the only two undefeated horses to win the Triple Crown. Many sports fans have just a passing interest in horse racing, only tuning in during May and June, when a Triple Crown's on the line. It was the second Triple Crown for trainer Bob Baffert and the first for jockey Mike Smith. Fitzsimmons did it with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.

Baffert said Sunday he essentially will do the same thing this time he did with American Pharoah, which is to bring him back to Churchill Downs for a week or so and then likely to Baffert's home base California. You get asked all the time what your strategy is going to be for a race, but when you have Mike Smith on one of your horses the beauty of it is you can sit back, relax and know that you've put all of that in the hands of the best in the business.

Getty Justify is one win away from a Triple Crown.

Chris Mara has won two Super Bowl championships with the Giants and now he is a Triple Crown champion, too.

Some had wondered whether the colt might show signs of fatigue following a busy schedule but that was not the case as he broke from his number one post position and was never seriously challenged by any of the other nine horses. He slogged through muddy conditions to win the Kentucky Derby and then emerged from a dense fog to capture the Preakness Stakes.

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Especially considering another Stage Magic offspring, The Lieutenant, won a Grade III race last month, giving the mare two recent graded states winners.

He ran the longest race of the series in 2:28.18 and paid $3.60, $3.50 and $2.80.

In a withering display of power and durability, the late-blooming colt who didn't race as a 2-year-old proved Saturday he couldn't be worn out as a 3-year-old, thundering to victory in the Belmont Stakes to claim a place in history as the sport's 13th Triple Crown champion. Mara said. "Amazing. Just hope Eli Manning can do the same thing at 37". I tell you, it's just incredible. "I can't describe the emotion that's going through my body right now", Smith said as he made for the winner's circle.

Jockey Jose Ortiz rode the rail through the final turn of the 1 1/2-mile test, angled out, and loomed behind Justify, ready to break plenty of hearts. More than $10 million was bet on the race. "This horse, I'm sure there was millions of people screaming at their TV wanting to see it done".

Smith got the colt into a relaxed rhythm under a moderate pace heading into the backstretch, and he had an easy trip from there. Vino Rosso made the most serious move to get within a length but never threatened.

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

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