Justify Captures Triple Crown With Belmont Stakes Win

Exactly 111 days from his first start on February 18, Justify, a massive colt with early speed that chills competition, a flawless stride that is repeatable, and an obvious will to finish first, bolted to a clear lead at the start of Saturday's Belmont Stakes. We saw another Triple Crown victor. He burnished his reputation by defeating nine rivals, the most faced by any Triple Crown champion.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will be chasing history, with Justify's attempt to win the Triple Crown at Belmont.

In doing so, he emulated Baffert's American Pharoah, who in 2015 was the first to land all three races since Affirmed in 1978. James "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons guided Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935.

Baffert was confident that the curse, known as the Apollo curse, would be broken before Justify stepped out onto the track.

It takes a great horse to win those two races, but it takes a legendary performer to win the Triple Crown.

If you're a cord-cutter, the best bet is Justify.

He added: "He was showing me the same signs (as American Pharoah), the brilliance, a superior horse".

The difficulty in horse racing's Triple Crown is that the races are at different lengths, at different tracks, requiring different combinations of talents (just like baseball's Triple Crown), with different sets of competitors.

Depending where you look, pundits are either shaken by what feels like a wave of momentum against Justify or they're disregarding all that fear and identifying Justify as one of the most gifted 3-year-old horses of all time.

In sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, Smith becomes the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. He's sent from heaven, it's just wonderful. "I'm just very fortunate". I can't describe the emotions going through my body right now. Horses do not do what Justify just did.

Justify and jockey Mike Smith have drawn gate 1, meaning that it will be an absolute must for the colt to have the same speed he has shown in previous starts, especially during the first quarter-mile.

Smith says Justify is both smart and in great shape.

"Our focus was on each race as it came up, and now we can take a deep breath and just see how the horse is, " Walden said. Nobody did. Smith got the colt into a relaxed rhythm under a moderate pace heading into the backstretch, and he had an easy trip from there. And it did not hurt that Justify's stablemate, Restoring Hope, acted as horse racing's version of a moving screen on the first turn.

If Justify remains healthy and sound, Baffert will have plenty of options to map out his summer and fall campaign, with the obvious goal being the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill.

Trainer Todd Pletcher also has two horses in the field - 8-1 Vino Rosso and 30-1 Noble Indy.

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