Justify dominates Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown victor

Justify dominates Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown victor

Justify dominates Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown victor

Justify's victory moved Baffert past D. Wayne Lukas to become the winningest trainer in Triple Crown races with 15.

The big chestnut colt paid only $3.80 to win on a $2 bet.

By winning the Derby, Justify broke the dreaded Apollo Curse, becoming the first horse to win that race after not starting as a two-year-old since Apollo did in 1882.

"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.

"Our focus was on each race as they came up", Walden said after unveiling Justify's Triple Crown banner inside Belmont Park.

"I actually thought maybe he's not going to break today".

Scat Daddy's bloodlines include Canadian-breds Nijinsky (an English Triple Crown champion), Northern Dancer and Storm Bird.

Justify's romp resulted in a quarter in 23.37, a half in 48.11 and six furlongs in 1:13.21, a fairly snappy pace for a mile and half horse race.

The 24-1 long-shot Gronkowski battled from the back of the pack to cross the line second, nearly two length's behind Justify, while the 5-1 Hofburg finished third. The trainer of both Justify and American Pharaoh becomes just the second to ever win the Triple Crown twice - "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons also did it twice, with Gallant Fox and Omaha in the 1930s.

"I knew on the first turn that it wasn't good because the way the horse was running, he was not relaxed and we still had a mile and a half to go nearly", jockey Stewart Elliott recalled recently.

The last time there was a Triple Crown coronation, President Barack Obama was still in office, Princess Charlotte was a month old and the long-suffering Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908. That horse's first crop hasn't even raced yet. Justify won the Preakness by a half-length.

Having failed with horses three times before American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, Baffert knows how tough it can be to get it done. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven. I mean, he left like he was going 440 yards in Ruidoso, New Mexico!" Finally finding room through which to squeeze midway through, Hofburg had to shift outward or else risk losing his momentum, but the result was a five-wide run that might have taken too much out of him.

"Yeah, I belong now", said Smith, who ripped carnations from the garland of flowers draped on Justify after the race and tossed them in the air to celebrate.

Triple Crown victor Justify was the center of the sports world on Saturday.

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

Justify returned $3.60 to win, $3.50 to place, and $2.80 to show. Gronkowski had won his last four starts in England, but had never raced on dirt or competed at farther than a mile prior to Saturday.

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