JUSTIFY (c, 3, Scat Daddy-Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper) put an exclamation point on his meteoric rise to the top of the game with a wire-to-wire victory in the GI Belmont S., becoming the 13th victor of horse racing's Triple Crown.
The 3-year-old chestnut behemoth known as Justify sparkled around Belmont Park's 1½-mile track Saturday in 2:28.18, capturing the 13th Triple Crown in history.
Justify is seeking to become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown victor and second in four years when he runs in the Belmont Stakes.
Justify has won all six of his career starts, four at grade one level.
"When you're standing in the winner's circle in the Derby there's nothing like it, but this is kind of cool because I'm a New Yorker, it's a little special". In fact, until the Preakness Stakes, no contender had come within 2 1/2 lengths of Justify as he had to fend off Bravazo and Tenfold late. Remarkably, Justify did not have his first start until February 18th this year and has quickly become the pin-up horse of American racing.
Smith, who kept looking at the replay of his own performance while fielding questions from the media, admitted that he was anxious about how calm Justify stood in the gate.
Baffert had fretted after Justify drew the No. 1 post, a spot he detests for his horses. Justify gave Baffert his 16th victory as trainer in the Triple Crown series - five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preaknesses and three Belmonts - breaking a tie with D. Wayne Lukas for tops all-time.
Justify's victory silenced the skeptics who believed the colt was due for a loss because of his rushed schedule and close result in the Preakness.
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The Belmont Stakes is the last of the Triple Crown races, after the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Justify led all the way in achieving one of the sports world's toughest feats 45 years to the day that Secretariat won the Belmont by a record 31 lengths. He burnished his reputation by defeating nine rivals, the most faced by any Triple Crown champion.
The China Horse Club not only part own Justify but had the honour of him completing the Triple Crown racing in their now famous colours, which are increasingly seen around tracks in New Zealand.
At 52, Smith became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown. If rain falls and turns it sloppy, Justify should feel right at home. Restoring Hope, who like Justify is trained by Baffert, last ran May 5 but not in the Derby. Vino Rosso made a move to get within a length of Justify but never improved.
Smith told reporters, "I just want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing us on this afternoon, and blessing us with this wonderful horse".
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No Triple Crown victor has faced more than seven rivals in the Belmont, so Justify could be the first.
"We're looking forward to sharing him [with the public] more, " said Elliott Walden, the CEO and racing manager for WinStar Farm, which owns a majority share of the horse.
Nadal simply had too much power and consistency for Argentina's fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the match that followed. Truth is, there were not many the rest of the way, as Nadal finished with 35 winners and just 19 unforced errors .
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Less than a month later, Justify became the first Kentucky Derby victor to go unraced as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. Justify is the first horse to win the Crown since American Pharaoh broke a decades-long drought in 2015.
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