Justify becomes 2nd undefeated horse to win Triple Crown
11 June, 2018, 17:42 | Author: Greg Lawrence
Triple Crown victor Justify will get a well-deserved break and then race again this year, although no date or location has been targeted yet after the colt came out of his Belmont Stakes victory in good condition.
The chestnut colt became the second undefeated horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on February 18.
The operation owns 15 percent of the breeding rights to Justify, who is descended from previous Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat.
Justify (1), with jockey Mike Smith up, crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Elmont, N.Y.
'Bob just wanted me to get good position, he wanted the horse to be forwardly placed, second or third, you don't see too many closers from Baffert, ' Geroux told the racing magazine. "It never gets old", said Baffert, who admitted American Pharoah would always be his first love.
At 52, Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
"I was just watching the clock".
Gallant Fox became the first horse to popularize the term with his success in 1930, although it was Sir Barton in 1919 that first won the three races in the same year.
Belmont Stakes: Justify completes Triple Crown with wire-to-wire win
Until American Pharoah broke through in 2015, hope that a horse in the modern era could withstand the grueling test of three races in five weeks was beginning to fade. His shot at becoming the 13th Triple Crown victor came just 111 days into his career.
He didn't even arrive in trainer Bob Baffert's barn until last November, long after most of the top 2-year olds had already begun sorting themselves out into Derby contenders and those who would ultimately aim lower.
"Today he looked fantastic", Baffert said. Justify won six of six races in his career and likely will be retired to stud. But Smith turned it into an advantage, gunning Justify to the lead and defying any horse to challenge.
Restoring Hope, also trained by Baffert, ran interference for the champion while traveling second and deterring any threats by forcing them to go extremely wide. Nobody did. Smith got the colt into a relaxed rhythm under a moderate pace heading into the backstretch, and he had an easy trip from there. From his first race on February 18 and continuing on his unconventional path to the Kentucky Derby, he had done things so brilliantly, so easily, that no dream seemed too big.
Justify will leave Belmont Park on Monday and go back to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., for at least a week before eventually returning to Baffert's home base in California.
John Velazquez, who finished in fourth place on Vino Rosso, also saw the move as questionable. Justify pulled away down the 1,097-yard stretch in front of a grandstand packed with screaming fans with only 24-1 shot Gronkowski picking up the chase down the lane.
"I think, like all of us, we need Justify to wake up on the wrong side of the bed to have a chance", said Todd Pletcher, trainer of fellow starters Vino Rosso and Noble Indy.
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