Justify completes Triple Crown dream at Belmont Park
Justify completes Triple Crown dream at Belmont Park
12 June, 2018, 11:13
And while there was no pent-up anguish this time around to vigorously stoke enthusiasm, Justify, ridden by the 52-year-old ironman Mike Smith, did not disappoint the crowd as he captured the 150th Belmont Stakes and become just the 13th Triple Crown victor.
Joining Seattle Slew as the second unbeaten Triple Crown victor, Justify finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of English invader Gronkowski, who finished strong at 25-1 for trainer Chad Brown.
In sweeping the big three races for 3-year-olds, Smith becomes the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
'If said violation is without such effect upon the finish of the race, penalty therefore may be applied against the offender only'.
So for the moment, at least, he sounded just like Zayat, who showed up at Justify's barn on Sunday to congratulate the horse's trainer, Bob Baffert, who also trained American Pharoah.
"But we ran into a buzzsaw, an incredible horse, a rare horse and that's the way it went". It may seem like those last few Derby finishers are just going to be also-rans, but anything can happen in horse racing.
From the first turn through the back stretch, Restoring Hope hung right off Justify, pinning Bravazo to the rail, whose late charge in the shorter Preakness Stakes almost overtook Justify in that race. They were never really challenged after that, with Gronkowski finishing second, Hofburg third, Bravazo sixth and Noble Indy in 10th and last place.
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The Triple Crown win adds $15 million to that, putting Justify's outright value at $75 million. There is also, of course, the risk of defeat, which takes away some of the invincibility of a Triple Crown victor.
"As I say, I've got to give all the credit to my daughter who planned the mating of Justify, and my staff at Glennwood".
Justify, the first to win the Triple Crown after not having raced as a 2-year-old, owned Belmont from the moment he arrived on Wednesday. "His only chance was to be up near the lead", Baffert said of Restoring Hope.
"American Pharoah will always be my first love", said Baffert on the NBC broadcast, "but this horse is special and I'm just so happy". In 2014, a Peter Pan victor, Tonalist, squelched California Chrome's Triple Crown bid. He's so gifted, " said Smith, who looked to the sky to celebrate after his ride. To me, when you win the Derby five times, I really felt like, 'Wow, I won the Derby.' But this is more to me - I wanted to see that horse, his name up there with those greats.
"The great ones, they just find another gear", Baffert said of Justify, who improved to 6-0 and joined Seattle Slew as the only horse to claim the Triple Crown with an unbeaten record.
"I believe there's just a flow that guides me and when I follow it, unbelievable things happen", he said. I'm so proud to be an American and feel this way, it's very emotional for me.
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