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ibusinesslines.com October 16, 2018


Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champion

13 June 2018, 05:24 | Charlene Valdez

Justify wins Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown champion

Justify with jockey Mike Smith on board crosses the finish line ahead of Gronkowski to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race and the Triple Crown. Pic AP

Given the fact that only three years had passed since the last Triple Crown victor, there wasn't almost as much pre-race media hype as there had been in 2015 when American Pharoah won the Belmont to become the first Triple Crown victor since Affirmed in 1978.

Mike Smith, the jockey riding Justify in Saturday night's Belmont Stakes, could have said anything in his first television interview.

The reality is the race Gronkowski ran would win quite a few Belmonts, even though the third leg of the Triple Crown is thought to be unkind to deep closers and hasn't produced a last-to-first victor since Jazil in 2006.

Justify won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, earning him the coveted Triple Crown.

By winning the Derby, Justify broke the dreaded Apollo Curse, becoming the first horse to win that race after not starting as a two-year-old since Apollo did in 1882.

"I have no earthly idea what Florent was thinking or what his race strategy was", West said, per Tom Pedulla of the New York Post. "This effort has reinforced our belief that America is a great place to do racing", said Teo Ah Khing, founder of the China Horse Club that is a co-owner of Justify. American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought of Triple Crown winners in 2015.

Justify ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the back straight at Belmont Park. Pic AP
Justify ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the back straight at Belmont Park. Pic AP

"He's sent from Heaven", Smith said. In 2017, Gulfstream Park in South Florida established the Pegasus World Cup, a race where up to 12 people can put up $1 million to reserve a spot in the gate, then either enter a horse in the race or make an arrangement to sell or lease their spot to another owner. Baffert has won 14 Triple Crown races, equaling the all-time total of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The big chestnut colt burst onto the national scene with a victory in the Kentucky Derby. Baffert, 65, had less than a year to train Justify who suffered a minor injury and didn't race his second year.

When skeptics questioned his audacious ambitions for the late-developing colt, Baffert said Justify was talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby with minimal experience. I believe that given the circumstances, Justify's Triple Crown sweep is the greatest yet.

The silver-haired Californian becomes only the second trainer to saddle more than one Triple Crown victor after "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha between the wars. "But if you win the Triple Crown you become a legend and that is what he is now".

"I've wanted to see that horse's name up there because we knew he was brilliant from day one". Turning for home with a date with immortality awaiting him in the winner's circle, Justify bounded home with Gronkowski (Lonhro ) giving belated chase to the wire. But he shot out with a fury, took a 11/2-length lead at the quarter pole and never let a challenger get closer than that.

Gronkowski, named for and partly owned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, returned $13.80 and $7. A plan will be formulated once the chestnut colt recovers from a compressed schedule that saw him win six races over 111 days since his debut February 18.




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