Tags: belmont | justify | horse racing | new york

Justify Wins Triple Crown

Justify Wins Triple Crown
Justify crosses the finish line at Saturday's Belmont Stakes. (AP)

Saturday, 09 June 2018 06:58 PM

Justify won the 150th Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, N.Y., becoming the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown and only the second undefeated champion to achieve racing's most prestigious accomplishment.

Starting out of the No. 1 post, jockey Mike Smith navigated Justify from the rail through a field of nine challengers to give trainer Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown winner in the last four years. Baffert also trained American Pharoah, who won the Triple Crown in 2015 to end a 37-year Triple Crown drought.

"(Justify) was showing me the same signs (as American Pharoah)," Baffert told NBC Sports after the race. "He's a brilliant, superior horse. He could've won every race on the undercard today."

Smith, at 52, became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown and gave Baffert a record 15 wins in Triple Crown races.

Justify joins Seattle Slew as the only two undefeated horses to win the Triple Crown.

Justify has won all six of his races. He slogged through muddy conditions to win the Kentucky Derby and then emerged from a dense fog to capture the Preakness Stakes. Conditions were much better Saturday, overcast but dry.

Draped in red and white, Justify got off to a good start, grabbing the early lead and setting a fast pace. Smith slowed the pace midway around the 1 1/2-mile track but maintained a two-length lead heading into the backstretch. He fought off challenges from Vino Rosso and Gronkowski and cruised home to history.

Smith said Justify was so calm in the gate that he was worried he might not break. He did and led wire-to-wire.

"This horse ran a tremendous race. He's so gifted," Smith said in a TV interview directly after the race. "He's a gift from heaven. He's just brilliant."

Justify closed as a 4-5 betting favorite.

Gronkowski finished second, and Hofburg came in third.

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Justify became only the 13th Triple Crown winner in history on Saturday in the Belmont Stakes.
belmont, justify, horse racing, new york
Saturday, 09 June 2018 06:58 PM
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