Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Justify gets Belmont Stakes sponsor in Wheels Up

Justify gets Belmont Stakes sponsor in Wheels Up

"He is the key to how all of us run".

For what it is worth, the National Weather Service is forecasting a 50 percent chance of showers Saturday for Belmont Park. Royal Assault - nearly a 30-1 long shot on the Belmont Stakes odds board and also trained by Zito - finished third, giving the Hammer and his followers monster payouts. He had four horses in this year's Kentucky Derby.

Bravazo and Vino Rosso were pegged at 8-1 each in the morning line. Vino Rosso, who finished ninth in the Derby, is trained by three-time Belmont victor Todd Pletcher and ridden by two-time victor John Velazquez.

After walking around the barn for a half-hour or so, the rangy chestnut colt was given a sponge bath and bedded down in the same stall used by 2015 Triple Crown victor American Pharoah, also trained by Baffert. Over the last 13 years, an "average" horse, one with a dosage index between 2.10 and 3.00, has won the Belmont 11 times. He broke from the No. 1 post in the Preakness.

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The excitement level, said Baffert, will be the same as it was for American Pharoah. He won the Preakness.

Todd Pletcher is one other high-profile trainer with stakes in Saturday's race, and he brings the duo of Vino Rosso and Noble Indy to Belmont Park hoping one underdog (or both) will have a big race.

There is an "after the lord mayor's show" feeling about the racing menu in the United Kingdom next Saturday, with Royal Ascot less than two weeks away, but there are two Group 3s at Haydock, and I like CRIBBS CAUSEWAY in the Pinnacle Stakes and DUTCH CONNEC- TION in the John O'Gaunt Stakes. Normally, I'd jump on that offering and load up on Justify to win and maybe use him in some exotic bets as well.

"All of them have done so well that it really makes me feel good that we gave them a foundation to put them in that position", Lukas, 82, said. "He's going to be a target now and you don't know what's going to happen". His throw from in front of the mound was high to infielder Luis Guillorme, who rose up to catch it.

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Charlotte Carroll from Sports Illustrated answers the basic question, how many horses have won the Belmont Stakes from post position No. 1? Blended Citizen and Gronkowski come into this race having not run the Derby or Preakness, so they could pull off an upset.

"You don't really enjoy the day because you're so nervous", Baffert said. When American Pharoah won in 2015, the second-place finisher was Frosted, another son of Tapit. Smith rode him in his last race on the Derby undercard, but will be replaced by Florent Geroux on Saturday.

There is a lot, $1.5 million, plus bragging rights and a trophy, on the line, but also a lot of fun to be had, based on the friendly needling that went on between Baffert and several other trainers at the draw. He and teammate Tom Brady have wagered together at the Derby in past years.

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes led dual Classic victor Justify off the van to the familiar sound of clicking camera shutters in front of a packed house at Barn 1 just after 2 p.m.

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Shurmur, who was named head coach of the New York Giants in January, will appear in the paddock prior to the start of the Belmont Stakes to announce "Riders Up", signaling the time for jockeys to receive a leg up on their mounts as they prepare to parade out onto the track.

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