Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Justify completes Triple Crown with Belmont triumph

Justify completes Triple Crown with Belmont triumph

Then he overcame a speed duel to just hold on in the Preakness Stakes.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who made his career on the NY racing circuit, piloted a ideal race to give trainer Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown. "Bob has helped me achieve so many of my goals, but today he made my dreams come true". In short, it has all the makings of a great horse movie.

There's good reason for that - the King made a surprise appearance behind Baffert in 2015 when his racehorse American Pharoah became the first to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. He quickly decided that in nearly 40 years as a jockey, he'd never ridden a more gifted 3-year-old. Only Bravazo will compete from that early group of contenders. Often it's the final quarter-mile that does in a contender.

The two Todd Pletcher-trained racers, Vino Rosso (+900) and Noble Indy (+2800), will break side-by-side from gates 8 and 9 respectively.

Being that valuable might make it hard for the horse to get back on the track again, though ownership seemed optimistic after the win that it was possible.

As impressed as people were by Justify's win, even more people had sports jokes ready. The second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers get between $100,000 to $280,000, and smaller amounts are handed out to the rest of the top eight. Justify's owners get $800,000.

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The effort was enough to inspire optimism, however.

Gronkowski, named for and partly owned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, returned $13.80 and $7.

Justify snapped an century-old streak back at the 2018 Kentucky Derby by coming the first horse since 1882 to win said race with racing as a 2-year-old, a common age for horses to begin their racing career. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith. If I trained the way I train him, I'd pass out".

The thoroughbred horse racing world belongs to "Big Money Mike" Smith.

Justify paid $3.50 to place and $2.80 to show.

Baffert said Justify was simply the best horse at the track on Saturday.

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At The Derby Bar and Grill in Surrey, B.C. fans packed in to cheer Justify - and Gunther - on Saturday. The Kentucky Derby prize money now totals roughly $2 million, with $1.24 million for the victor. He's the first Triple Crown victor to face that many rivals in the 1½-mile Belmont.

Justify's time at the four-furlong mark (half-mile) was 48.11 and a reasonable 1:13.21 after six panels. Finally, he was sent across the country to Baffert's stable, making his first start on February 18 of this year. The only other unbeaten Triple Crown victor was Seattle Slew in 1977.

"This never gets old", an emotional Baffert said after the race. I really believe in that, that they're helping me out, giving me that little "push" that Laffit Pincay used to talk about.

"I think that people in the horse racing industry saw what we did and what we were able to do as far as making additional money". We had him ready. He doesn't stand up and celebrate, he just lets the horse pull up properly.

"You can't find these horses, they find you".

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