Justify captures Triple Crown, wins Belmont

Belmont Stakes 2018: The 6 horses that are the best bets to upset Justify

Belmont Stakes 2018: The 6 horses that are the best bets to upset Justify

The staff made special pizzas with Justify and Triple Crown spelled out in pepperoni.

The late bloomer won the Belmont Stakes by 1¾ lengths on Saturday, giving the sport its 13th Triple Crown champion.

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.

Justify won the Belmont starting from the rail.

"Why would you send a horse that breaks bad and take everybody out, then come back in?" the jockey questioned. "It was meant to be".

The operation owns 15 percent of the breeding rights to Justify, who is descended from previous Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat.

Baffert - who has won more Triple Crown races than anyone - complimented his team for helping the horse, which ran three major, testing races in five weeks.

The big chestnut colt with the appetite to match burst onto the national scene with a 2½-length victory on a sloppy track in the Derby. With the last Triple Crown just three years past, would casual sports fans embrace him as they had American Pharoah? Once he began training seriously for his debut at Santa Anita, he had no margin for error if Baffert's plan to make a Triple Crown push was going to be realized. But just three years after American Pharoah reset the clock with his majestic performance at Belmont, the precocious, musclebound Justify shoved his way into thoroughbred racing's most glorified club. Baffert called Justify one of the all-time greats.

The morning after the Belmont Stakes questions quickly turned to what's next for the newest Triple Crown victor. Only his 52-year old jockey, who has reached the peak of his powers in the twilight of his career, added much sentimental value to the story.

"He just puts an old man out there to sit still, who stays out of the way and lets a good horse be a good horse", Smith said, crediting Baffert for using him. "He's sent from heaven. I tell you, it's just fantastic".

Del Potro: Nothing to lose against Nadal
Garbine Muguruza overwhelmed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 in a matchup of past French Open champions to reach the semifinals. Sloane Stephens' clash with Madison Keys represented a rematch of the 2017 US Open final, which Stephens won.

After the horse won its first two races, he knew Justify was an incredible raw talent, capable of history.

Even so, Justify enjoyed a dry track on Saturday and led the race from start to finish.

Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses.

Justify defied the hard post position along the rail, breaking well and taking the lead within seconds.

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.

Smith got the big colt into a relaxed rhythm under a moderate pace heading into the backstretch, and he had an easy trip from there.

"I was really happy with way he got away from there", jockey Mike Smith said. 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.

Gronkowski, named for and partly owned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, finished second. The 24-1 shot picked off a half-dozen rivals in taking up the chase down the lane.

Vino Rosso finished fourth, followed by Tenfold, Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, Blended Citizen and Noble Indy before a crowd of 90,327.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.