Justify wins Belmont Stakes to become Triple Crown champ

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May

ImageJustify ridden by Mike Smith began his Triple Crown bid by winning the Kentucky Derby on May

According to Sports Illustrated, the curse of Apollo was one of the "longest curses in sports". Justify's owners are betting on his worldwide appeal. Six races, six victories and only in the Preakness did he appear vulnerable.

"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".

The three-year-old colt Justify won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, after previously winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the three most prestigious horse racing events of the year.

Then, at this past Saturday's Belmont Stakes in NY, the dream came true for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club & SF Racing, who'd sold Justify's breeding rights for an historically high $60 million.

Since Wednesday, when Justify pulled up to Barn 1 at Belmont Park, minus the police escort that Pharoah had received, the trainer Bob Baffert appeared at ease.

Having failed with horses three times before American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, Baffert knows how tough it can be to get it done. "And if he's anywhere close as good as Justify that would be a great accomplishment as well".

"His mechanics, his motion, just the way he did it. ..."

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He also seemed to revel in no longer having to carry the team on his shoulders. "His technical and creative ability is impressive. But fears of a right-back crisis seem to have been subdued after Danilo's solid performances against Croatia and Austria .

"I really didn't think about that, " Baffert said.

Among the other horses scheduled to compete in the Belmont is Bravazo, who challenged Justify in the Preakness and was beaten by a half-length.

However, Baffert has seen similarities in his stride, his growth and his potential. The 7-year-old bay horse won by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $9.10 to win - a generous price on a Baffert trainee. It may seem like those last few Derby finishers are just going to be also-rans, but anything can happen in horse racing. "And this horse is getting there". Baffert called Justify one of the all-time greats.

"They both could win the Breeders' Cup Sprint and the Breeders' Cup Classic".

Jockey Mike Smith, 52, is the second-oldest Kentucky Derby victor behind Bill Shoemaker.

Newgate Farm boss Henry Field can't wait for unbeaten Triple Crown victor Justify to stand as a stallion in Australia after watching the colt he helped buy win the Belmont Stakes on Sunday. He stood so quietly in the starting gate that jockey Mike Smith wondered if he'd respond when it sprang open. I've never seen anything like that. "So far he hasn't gotten overheated or get too anxious about things". He's so gifted, " said Smith, who looked to the sky to celebrate after his ride. "He's in his 50s acting like he's in his 20s". And you're not going to want to miss it. "Especially in these big money situations, nobody's better". At that point, Smith asked Justify for a bit more speed. I felt on my watch, if he's happy, I'll keep him running. Tanya Gunther was responsible for choosing the chestnut colt's parents. Scat Daddy, who ran for trainer Todd Pletcher, died at age 11 in 2015.

Justify opened his bid with a 2 ½-length victory on a sloppy track in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 5. Last year, he won 15 Grade 1 races, the most since he won 20 back in 1994.

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