Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Why Justify ranks among the best Triple Crown winners

Why Justify ranks among the best Triple Crown winners

He trained American Pharoah in 2015 when the horse won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and Belmont Stakes in NY after a 37-year Triple Crown dry spell for thoroughbred horse racing.

Jockey Mike Smith wore the colors of the China Horse Club, one of Justify's owners, on race day; the red outfit with yellow starts resembled the Chinese flag, as the China Horse Club's seeking to grow the sport there.

What makes Justify's accomplishment more remarkable is that the horse became so valuable in 111 days from his first race on February 18 to Saturday, when he became the 13th victor of the Triple Crown.

Justify, the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown, is partially owned by a company controlled by the top employees of Jewish investor George Soros.

Even so, Justify enjoyed a dry track on Saturday and led the race from start to finish.

Among the possibilities: the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park in Nw Jersey; the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar outside San Diego on August 18; and the $1.25 million Travers at Saratoga in NY on August 25. Justify rewarded his sun-splashed backers with $3.60 on a $2 bet to win.

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Last year, Baffert won four races with Mor Spirit (Metropolitan Handicap), Abel Tasman (Acorn), American Anthem (Woody Stephens) and West Coast (Easy Goer). "Did you see him in the gate?"

Jockey Jose Ortiz rode the rail through the final turn of the 1 1/2-mile test, angled out, and loomed behind Justify, ready to break plenty of hearts. Baffert has won 14 Triple Crown races, equaling the all-time total of legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths and then survived a half-length victory in the Preakness, both on sloppy tracks.

He was the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a two-year-old.

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. He burnished his reputation by defeating nine rivals, the most faced by any Triple Crown champion.

The weather in the NY area on Saturday is expected to be on the warmer side, with highs in the upper 70s. Smith has seven Triple Crown race victories to his credit.

The Belmont Stakes is known for a lot of things, from being the crowning glory of a grueling five-week race series to a crushing spoiler for runners and their connections attempting to earn racing immortality with a Triple Crown. "He's now become a household name, and I'm looking forward to his next race just as much as you guys are". Vino Rosso made the most serious move to get within a length but never threatened. "I thought maybe, because I could see Gronkowski flying, but he just couldn't get to that horse".

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