Sports

Justify Wins Triple Crown

Justify Wins Triple Crown

In adding the Belmont to his Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories, the unbeaten Justify made Bob Baffert just the second trainer to saddle two Triple Crown winners.

Ridden by Mike Smith, 52, Justify is only the second undefeated runner to win the Triple Crown, after the great Seattle Slew in 1977, with Baffert the second trainer to achieve the feat twice.

CORRECTS DAY AND DATE - Justify (1), with jockey Mike Smith up, crosses the finish line ahead of Gronkowski (6), with jockey Jose Ortiz up, to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race and the Triple Crown, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Elmont, N.Y.

"From his first start, you could see that he was a very, very impressive colt", John Gunther of Langley, B.C., who bred Justify at his Kentucky farm, told CTV Vancouver before the race. Two weeks later, he survived a challenge in the fog-shrouded Preakness, winning by a half-length, again in the slop to set up a Triple Crown try. It shows a horse eating the flowers off a women's hat and the jockey reimbursing her in the winner's circle with Quick Pay. Horse racing's latest superstar will attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown victor in U.S. Thoroughbred racing and he has a great chance to accomplish the feat. "Did you see him in the gate?" Justify is also running on the inside post, where no horse has won the Belmont since 1997. It had previously won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, which together make up horse racing's most sought-after title.

The chestnut colt is the second horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, improving to 6-0 in a racing career that began on February 18.

Ultimately, Gronkowski flattened out and finished second, 1 3/4 lengths back, but he came in another 1 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Hofburg.

When skeptics questioned his audacious ambitions for the late-developing colt, Baffert said Justify was talented enough to win the Kentucky Derby with minimal experience.

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Justify, the Triple Crown victor, will get a well-deserved break before racing again this year, although no date or location has been targeted.

Justify's victory gives racing its second Triple Crown victor of the decade. "He just came on there and broke every curse there was". Smith will be aboard Justify in the colt's bid to become racing's 13th Triple Crown victor.

One owner believes that there was something suspicious about how the race was handled by Restoring Hope, a stablemate of Justify's, with both horses trained by Bob Baffert.

There was one horse, however, who was a threat to Justify's Triple Crown bid at the top of the Belmont Park stretch. But he shot out with a fury, took a 11/2-length lead at the quarter pole and never let a challenger get closer than that.

ESPN's Darren Rovell reported before the Belmont that Justify's stud rights had been sold to Irish-based Coolmore for $60 million, with a $15 million bonus if he won the Triple Crown.

With Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski screaming in the stands, his namesake colt surged to third at the 11/4-mile mark, then unseated Vino Rosso for second as the field turned for home. Restoring Hope spent much of the race just behind the eventual victor and to his outside, though never passed him.


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