Owners: Triple Crown winner Justify will race again
Owners: Triple Crown winner Justify will race again
WATCH: Live streaming of Belmont Stakes, Justify's attempt at the Triple Crown
13 June, 2018, 01:34
It worked to perfection as Smith put an exclamation point on his illustrious career, guiding Justify to victory in the 1½-mile race that was over with an eighth of a mile to go. A crowd capped at 90,000 is expected at Belmont Park. The great Secretariat ended a 25-year drought in 1973 in record fashion, then, four years later, Seattle Slew came along to put his flawless stamp on the feat. In 2008, Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown's breeding rights were sold for $50 million before the horse had a lackluster Belmont Stakes race. Justify began his career in mid February, capturing a maiden race at Santa Anita before adding an allowance event at that venue a week shy of one month later. "We've been able to brand something very special in what we've accomplished".
Scat Daddy's bloodlines include Canadian-breds Nijinsky (an English Triple Crown champion), Northern Dancer and Storm Bird. Back in NY where he dominated in the 1990s, Smith took Justify on a walk past the packed grandstand, soaking in the cheers and giving the crowd a closer look at racing's newest hero.
American Pharoah was the last horse to win the Triple Crown, capturing horse-racing's storied trifecta in 2015.
Justify was a US$500,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by China Horse Club and Maverick Racing. The $2 exacta from the Belmont Stakes paid out $89, and the $1 trifecta paid out $229.74 - totals that eclipsed those of both the Derby and Preakness Stakes.
"He listens to you - to everything I do", Smith said.
Wearing a white blanket advertising his status as the sport's 13th Triple Crown victor, Justify walked laps inside the barn before coming outside to greet a slew of cameras.
All that remained was to prove that he had the toughness and resolve to conquer the longest, most grueling leg of the Triple Crown.
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Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses.
Not only did Justify give the 65-year-old trainer his second Triple Crown in four years on Saturday, but for the second straight year, Baffert came away with a win in every race he had an entry on the day of the Belmont Stakes.
"This horse ran a tremendous race", Smith said.
Hall of Fame jockey Smith - the oldest rider to win the Triple Crown - said: "This horse is so gifted". He's sent from heaven, it's just awesome. "He is sent from heaven, I tell you".
The white mane of Justify trainer Bob Baffert, horse whisperer to the stars, is now known the world over.
John Velazquez, who finished in fourth place on Vino Rosso, also saw the move as questionable. "I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse".
Justify held off a late-charge from Gronkowski, named after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowskim, the the Giants beat in Super Bowl XLVI.
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