Justify Captures Triple Crown With Belmont Stakes Win

Justify with jockey Mike Smith on board crosses the finish line ahead of Gronkowski to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race and the Triple Crown. Pic AP

Justify scored a wire-to-wire triumph under Mike Smith in Saturday's Belmont, winning by 1 3/4 lengths to become racing's 13th Triple Crown victor and the second in four years for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Bob Baffert became only the second trainer in history to win the Triple Crown twice.

The large and muscular Justify, owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing & WinStar Farm, was ridden to victory by veteran jockey Mike Smith.

Triple Crown victor Justify led all the way at Saturday's Belmont Stakes, but controversy arose Sunday after some raised questions about the role of another horse in the victory.

"Our focus was on each race as they came up", Walden said after unveiling Justify's Triple Crown banner inside Belmont Park.

While nobody's denying that this is a special horse, and the feat he accomplished was incredible, I do believe that many underestimate how incredible.

Hofburg paid $3.70 to show. Baffert oversaw American Pharoah's Triple Crown success in 2015 and has used the same methods with Justify.

"To achieve a result like this, how do you beat it?"he said".

Justify ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the back straight at Belmont Park. Pic AP
Justify ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the back straight at Belmont Park. Pic AP

Justify will break from the No. 1 post in the starting gate. Justify gave Baffert his 16th victory as trainer in the Triple Crown series - five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preaknesses and three Belmonts - breaking a tie with D. Wayne Lukas for tops all-time. He wasn't a 2-year-old champion bred and built to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. From there, he reeled off consecutive Grade I wins in the April 7 Santa Anita Derby, May 5 Kentucky Derby and May 19 Preakness S. Sales History: $500,000 yrl KEESEP '16.

Before the Belmont, which Justify won by 13/4 lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by 21/2 lengths.

When skeptics questioned his audacious ambitions for the late-developing colt, Baffert said Justify was talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby with minimal experience. The Triple Crown winner's yet unnamed half-brother is a yearling at Glennwood and is the spitting image of his older sibling.

With rain and mud a strong possibility again, in NY on Saturday, the question was which Justify would we see? "He is sent from heaven, I tell you". Justify has now raced six times in 112 days, and has come out the other side of the Triple Crown unscathed.

Baffert will saddle a second horse: 30-1 shot Restoring Hope. "I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse". If rain falls and turns it sloppy, Justify should feel right at home. Vino Rosso made a move to get within a length of Justify but never improved.

Gronkowski, named for and partly owned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, returned $13.80 and $7.

And even more so for Cambridge bloodstock agent Michael Wallace because he was one of those responsible for choosing racing's newest superstar from the yearling sales.

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