Justify chases Triple Crown history in Belmont Stakes
Justify chases Triple Crown history in Belmont Stakes
Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown in 150 yearsMore
10 June, 2018, 04:56
Baffert was asked throughout, and by the Belmont, he believed the answer was yes.
The Bill Mott-trained Hofburg finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Gronkowski, holding third by a neck over Vino Rosso. The next year, the classic rivalry of Affirmed and Alydar reached its peak when Affirmed inched ahead by a head to become the last Triple Crown victor until Pharoah arrived. He won with American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year drought.
Slew's Belmont triumph made him 8-for-8, the only horse to sweep the classics while undefeated. "He's so gifted", said Mike Smith, 52, the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown in a post-race interview on NBC.
Few horses have ever come so far, so fast.
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Justify keeps showing something new each time he races.
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"I just kept a leg on each side and my mind in the middle", Smith said. It may seem like those last few Derby finishers are just going to be also-rans, but anything can happen in horse racing.
Smith let Justify roll through a first quarter in:23.37, then subtly eased up the tempo to mark the half-mile in:48.11. He quickly decided that in nearly 40 years as a jockey, he'd never ridden a more gifted 3-year-old.
Justify has already done more than expected, a bit of a late bloomer who doesn't have the pedigree of someone like American Pharoah.
His story grew more complicated the next morning when he looked uncomfortable putting pressure on a bruised left hind heel. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness on sloppy tracks after heavy rain fell. Once the horses come out of the final turn, they've still got a 1,097-yard (1,003 meters) run through the stretch, exhausting for a horse with little or no gas left in the tank.
Justify defied all the odds on his way to achieving Triple Crown immortality.
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