Sports

Justify bags Triple Crown win in Belmont Stakes

Justify bags Triple Crown win in Belmont Stakes

"Oh yeah", exclaimed Baffert with that fun-loving grin of his, "the king is back!"

Saturday night at Belmont Park, Justify made history when he crossed the finish line ahead of the other horses and became the 13th victor of the Triple Crown.

"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.

The horse, owned by primarily WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing, was being sought after for his breeding rights well before his career had come to a close. "I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse".

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"It's been the longest, quickest journey", a hoarse-sounding Baffert said as light rain fell outside Justify's barn. Troutt admitted, "Yes, I did have butterflies down the stretch". American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, and now just three years later, racing is celebrating another sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. "It has a different feel". If he pulls it off, he'll become the 13th thoroughbred in history to do so and only the second since 1978 when American Pharoah took the title in 2015. Justify was anything but typical.

Justify won the Belmont on Saturday by 1¾ lengths over 24-1 shot Gronkowski after winning the Kentucky Derby by 2½ lengths and the Preakness by a half-length.

He said Justify will likely race in the Traverse and the Breeders' Cup in the months ahead before likely retiring as a stallion at the end of the year. According to The New York Times, the publication first used the term in 1923, but it was not a common term until 1930.

"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", said Mike Smith, who at 52 is the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. He's just an unbelievable horse. The colt was not on any Kentucky Derby lists. It won the 2016 Belmont with Creator, trained by Steve Asmussen.

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Justify pushed the Triple Crown winning horses to luck No. 13.

"Bob has helped me achieve so many of my goals, but today, man, he made my dream come true", an emotional Smith said. We're just so proud of him. I wanted to see that horse, his name up there with those greats. They couldn't lose. What unfolded under an overcast sky before 90,327people at Belmont Park was the confluence of their work and skill, carried out brilliantly by a 1,380-pound horse that won for the sixth time in only 112 days. Twenty-three times a horse has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown only to be denied horse racing's ultimate glory by failing to win the Belmont Stakes in NY.

Still, as happy-go-lucky as he seemed before the race, Baffert was unusually emotional in his post-race television interview. "My (late) parents are helping me and friends I've lost. He ran well. I mean, for not having any pace, he finished up very well". Baffert then threw him right into the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, which he won by 3 lengths.

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