It was Justify's moment after all.
Justify became the 13th horse to land the US Triple Crown at Belmont, in NY, on Saturday night when the Bob Baffert-trained colt ran out a comfortable victor of the Belmont Stakes to add to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The last time Baffert tried to win the Triple Crown, he did, with American Pharoah in 2015.
CORRECTS DAY AND DATE - Justify (1), with jockey Mike Smith up, crosses the finish line ahead of Gronkowski (6), with jockey Jose Ortiz up, to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race and the Triple Crown, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Elmont, N.Y.
Before the race, bettors gave Justify a 3-5 chance of winning, a clear favorite. He defeated a deep crop, faced more horses in his three legs than any previous Triple Crown victor. Assuming the track is fast for the Belmont, what will change? I love horses that are fresh for this race, and Rosso finished ninth in the Derby after recovering from a rough and messy start.
Justify won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths and the Preakness by a half-length on sloppy tracks, putting him in position to deliver a second Triple Crown in four years to the struggling sport.
After wearing mainly white silks in the previous two triple crown races, Smith on Saturday will don the colors - red with yellow stars - of the China Horse Club, part owner of the three-year-old colt. "He is a magnificent animal".
The way things went this year, don't be surprised to see Smith riding a good one in next year's Triple Crown races. With lame odds on Justify, we'll have to look elsewhere for a good payout.
"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", Smith said.More news: 'Fox & Friends' Anchor Freudian Slips, Calls Trump a 'Dictator'
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Walden (speaking to Baffert): "What did you tell Mike?" Though it served Secretariat well, it posed a concern for Baffert, who anxious his muscular colt might get pinned against the rail if he didn't break well.
His days now are spent staying in shape with a rigorous workout schedule that keeps him in top condition to use his vast experience in handling the best horses in the business.
But Gronkowski went off at 24-1 and broke dead last.
Justify held off a late-charge from Gronkowski, named after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowskim, the the Giants beat in Super Bowl XLVI.
"For him to close up that much ground off a really easy pace, it was a remarkable race that he ran".
"He's sent from Heaven", Smith said.
"Once they turned toward home, I felt at that point he'd hold anybody off who was coming". Among the other recent undefeated Kentucky Derby winners were Smarty Jones, Big Brown and Nyquist.
The Preakness and Kentucky Derby victor became thoroughbred racing's 13th Triple Crown with a front-running victory in the Belmont Stakes.