Justify wins Belmont Stakes to become 13th Triple Crown champ


"When the half-brother was foaled he was lying in the stall and his legs were so long that I said to Tanya, 'Well, here's one we can't sell'".

Justify will break from the No. 1 post in the starting gate. "This horse ran a tremendous race".

Justify is on a winning streak. Justify improved to 6-0 in a racing career that only began on February 18.

Justify didn't start racing until turning 3 years old, becoming the first horse in over a century to win the Kentucky that didn't race as a 2-year-old.

Factors that did in so many horses before Justify, like the Derby's 20-horse field, a sloppy track and blazing early pace, seemed only to make this year's Triple Crown victor stronger. Justify's owners are betting on his worldwide appeal.

"His mechanics, his motion, just the way he did it. ..."

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Bob Baffert, who trained American Pharoah, also is the trainer of Justify. "He looks no different than the way American Pharoah did coming in here". It had previously won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, which together make up horse racing's most sought-after title.

However, Baffert has seen similarities in his stride, his growth and his potential.

"To me, Abel Tasman and Hopportunity, when they set the stage early, I thought this is going to be good", Baffert said.

"I think it's very fitting that Gronkowski finished second again", Mara cracked. "And this horse is getting there".

There was some show of competition from the other horses. He has ridden such outstanding horses as Zenyatta, Royal Delta, Songbird, Shared Belief and Game On Dude, but riding Justify has taken him to a new level. I'm probably closer to that horse because of his temperament. Smith has seven Triple Crown race victories to his credit.

Seattle Slew's Triple Crown - four years after that of Secretariat, was swiftly followed by Affirmed's in 1978.

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"Usually about a week later, you can see how much of a toll it's taken on him, " Baffert said.

While nobody's denying that this is a special horse, and the feat he accomplished was incredible, I do believe that many underestimate how incredible. "So far he hasn't gotten overheated or get too anxious about things".

Smith, 52, is the second-oldest Kentucky Derby victor behind Bill Shoemaker, who rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986 at age 54. "He's my champion", the smiling, ageless jockey added. Trainers are looking for experienced riders to lead their thoroughbreds to victory, and no one knows horse racing better than Smith. "I mean, they're a good combination and they got the job done". "He's in his 50s acting like he's in his 20s".

Bob Baffert and Mike Smith have teamed up to win a big race at Belmont Park.

"I told him I loved him", he said.

Scat Daddy is the sire of the chestnut colt, nicknamed "Big Red". From there, he reeled off consecutive Grade I wins in the April. 7 Santa Anita Derby, May 5 Kentucky Derby and May 19 Preakness S. Sales History: $500,000 yrl KEESEP '16.

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"It never gets old".