Monday, 15 October, 2018

Justify completes Triple Crown with Belmont triumph

Belmont Stakes 2018: The 6 horses that are the best bets to upset Justify Belmont Stakes live stream: How to watch Justify go for the Triple Crown without a TV
Cassandra Gardner | 10 June, 2018, 05:00

Justify's victory made Bob Baffert just the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice.

Showers are possible for the 1 1/2 mile (2400m) race on the Belmont Park dirt in Elmont, New York.

Had the Preakness been another tenth of a mile, a hard-charging Bravazo might've passed Justify and ended the Triple Crown bid on Saturday.

Of the swift and lucky 13 Thoroughbreds who have won the Triple Crown since Sir Barton became the first to wear the mantle of greatness in 1919, only Justify holds the distinction of accomplishing the rare sweep after going unraced as a 2-year-old. "And I am so happy for Mike Smith".

He knew in February that the 3-year-old chestnut colt, who had yet to run a race, was something special.

Gronkowski, named for the National Football League player, finished second, less than two lengths back. He could hardly believe the acceleration he felt underneath him when he asked the big horse to make a move midway through a 6 ½-length victory. "There is no more deserving (jockey) than him".

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The strapping chestnut colt, trained by Bob Baffert and rode by Mike Smith, broke well out of the gate and led the one-and-a-half-mile race from wire to wire, pulling away down the homestretch in a finishing time of 2:28.18 amid a deafening crescendo from the crowd of more than 90,000 at Belmont Park, the venerable race course just outside NY city limits. If rain falls and turns it sloppy, Justify should feel right at home. Baffert declared that he had a plan that would allow the promising 3-year-old to overcome what seemed to be a hopelessly late start and still qualify for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.

Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses. But most important, Justify's victory assures that we won't have to wait another 37 years to see a Triple Crown.

Fans streamed into Belmont Park on Saturday in anticipation of watching Justify try to become the second Triple Crown victor since 2015. The latest that any of the first 12 thoroughbred immortals got started was September 20, the date of Seattle Slew's first race in 1976.

Justify's run in the Kentucky Derby was convincing enough to scare off a few opposing owners and trainers from the Preakness. He has not run since a seventh placing at the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago.

Hofburg, a 9/2 shot ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., is rated by punters as the most likely to beat Justify.

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

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