Justify captures Triple Crown, wins Belmont

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

As 13 unlucky Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners since 1978 came and went from Belmont Park without completing the Triple Crown, the drought morphed from historical quirk to an existential struggle.

Justify won the Belmont wire-to-wire, demolishing all expectations and precedent.

Bob Baffert (center) trained both Justify and Restoring Hope. His shot at becoming the 13th Triple Crown victor came just 111 days into his career. "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.

Justify's victory gives racing its second Triple Crown victor of the decade.

From his tender heel the day after he won the Kentucky Derby to his exhausted performance in the Preakness to his starting position on the dreaded rail in the Belmont Stakes, he'd encountered obstacles that have defeated many an excellent horse.

Baffert joins "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons as the only trainers to win the Triple Crown twice. Baffert won in 2015 with American Pharoah.

While each of the three races date back to the second half of the nineteenth century, the concept of the Triple Crown wasn't conceived until several decades later.

Baffert has said it would be a good thing if owners no longer feel they have to force a 2-year-old start for every potential Derby horse. Baffert also trained Triple Crown victor American Pharoah in 2015.

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

"I wanted to see that horse's name up there (with the other greats) because we know he was brilliant from day one", Baffert said.

At 52, Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown.

According to NY state gaming commission regulations: 'If any horses trained by the same trainer race uncoupled in any race, and one or more of them shall be disqualified for violation of the rules of racing, any other horses entered by that same trainer shall also be disqualified if in the judgment of the stewards such violation prevented any other horse or horses from finishing ahead of the other part of the entry. "He's sent from heaven".

'Justify's a freak, super horse, undefeated, incredible what he's done, ' Repole told DFR. "I can't describe the emotions going through my body right now". A plan will be formulated once the chestnut colt recovers from a compressed schedule that saw him win six races over 111 days since his debut on February 18.

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

'If my horse would have broke on top, I would have been on the lead and Justify laying second. 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.

"Did you see him in the gate, he's standing so still", Smith said. They didn't do it. Gronkowski (named for the New England Patriots tight end) was second, and Hofburg took show. Justify pulled away down the 1,097-yard stretch in front of screaming fans with only 24-1 shot Gronkowski picking off a half-dozen rivals in taking 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. Vino Rosso made the most serious move to get within a length but never threatened.

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